There’s nothing like the feeling of going for a long run and releasing stress as you feel your muscles becoming stronger. A possible downside of running, however, is the development of stiffness, especially in the calves and ankles. Tight ankles can roll more easily, possibly leading to strains or sprains. Stretching your ankle can help to loosen and strengthen the joint, and it can also help relieve some stiffness in the calf muscles.
Sit tall on the edge of a chair. Pull your stomach muscles in toward your lower back, elongate your spine and push your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Elevate your right foot off of the ground by 12 to 18 inches. Perform the exercise one leg at a time to fully focus on the ankle rotation.
Rotate your foot in a clockwise circular motion. Use slow, gradual movements. You should feel the stretch in the ankle. Continue until you have completed 10 to 20 circles. Repeat on the left leg.
Kneel on an exercise or yoga mat to begin Hero Pose. Bring your knees to touch and allow your feet to be separated slightly wider than hip-width. The top of your ankles should be facing down.
Lower your butt to the floor, resting it between your feet. Keep your spine upright and elongated. Engage your abdominal muscles to protect your lower back. Press your shoulder blades down your back. Look forward rather than up or down to keep your neck and spine in alignment. Place your hands on top of your thighs or on the floor next to your feet. You should feel the stretch on the tops of your ankles.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Release the pose by lifting your buttocks up and returning to your knees.
- You may also perform the ankle rotation by lying down on your back and elevating the foot or by balancing on one leg and lifting the working foot, if you prefer.
- Place a folded blanket or bolster under your butt during Hero Pose if you are not able to comfortably sit on the floor in this position.
- Seek medical assistance if the stiffness or pain in your ankles and calves does not subside.
- Consult a physician before starting an exercise routine.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.