Although it may be tempting to try something simple such as walking on the tips of your toes to strengthen your ankle muscles, take caution in performing any anatomically abnormal movement repetitively throughout the day. By altering your gait pattern or other similar changes, you can cause chronic trauma or acute injury to your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. Exercise your ankle muscles with a safe, effective and quick method to reduce your risks and improve your ankle strength.
Risks and Effects
Walking on your tip toes throughout the day can cause misalignment in several areas of your body. When you raise up onto your tip toes, you automatically arch your lower back, placing more pressure on your lumbar joints. Also, you strain your knee ligaments, which could cause a tear or strain. Exercising the ankle muscles throughout the entire day places you at an increased risk for twisting your ankle with a resultant ankle sprain. Additionally, this will shorten the tendon on back of your ankle, which can cause plantar fasciitis.
Safe Tip-Toe Walking
Although constant walking on your tip toes is contraindicated, use of this stance for limited moments during your exercise routine can help you achieve your fitness goals. Stand up on your tip toes and challenge yourself to hold that position as long as you can. Move back and forth from a flat-foot stance to a tip-toe stance to strengthen your ankle and calf muscles, limiting this exercise to five minutes. Walk on a smooth surface on your tip toes for a few minutes to target the ankle muscles.
Standing Balance Exercises
Strengthen your ankle muscles by performing balance-challenging tasks. Stand on one foot and try to keep your balance as long as you can without putting your foot back on the floor. Once you can maintain this unileg stance for more than one minute, challenge yourself further by standing on a pillow or foam pad. Use a spotter throughout these exercises to reduce your risk of falling during the exercise.
Resistance Band Exercises
Wrap a resistance band around the ball of your foot and hold both ends in your hands. Perform each exercise 20 times in each direction. Push your ankle downward as though you are depressing the brake pedal and then slowly return to the start position. Rotate your ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise holding the strap in your left hand for clockwise exercise and in your right hand for counterclockwise exercises.
Melissa Sabo is an occupational therapist who started writing professional guidebooks for all Flagship Rehabilitation employees in 2009. Specializing in applied therapy and exercise for non-medical readers, she also coauthored a manual on wheelchair positioning. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy.