Ankle Stretches

The ankle is made of a number of bones, muscles and tendons that connect with the calf and lower leg muscles. Ankle stretches aim to increase the flexibility and strength of the ankle joint and reduce the chances of injury.

You need strong ankles for everyday activities and if you are an athlete or sportsperson even more so. Ankle stretching exercises need to be incorporated into both your warm up and cool down routines, before and after you exercise.

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Stretching For Runners
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You can even do simple ankle stretches at work or at any time during the day to prevent fatigue and reduce stress in your feet and legs.

Ankle Stretches For Runners

If you are a runner, stretching is imperative. Ankle stretches for runners can prevent overuse injuries. Since a majority of these overuse injuries in runners are located at the ankles or lower legs, including a series of ankle stretches into your warm up and cool down routines can reduce the risk of these occurring. Ankle stretches for runners can also increase the range of motion of the joint and thus improve performance as well. Some simple ankle stretches that can be included are ankle rotations, Achilles tendon stretch, arch-rolling stretch, and an arch stretch. Consult with a podiatrist and trainer to recommend the best ankle stretches for your individual requirements.

Sprained Ankle Stretches

In case you have had a broken or sprained ankle, there are special sprained ankle stretches that you can do to aid the healing process. Stretching increases blood circulation and encourages torn muscle fibers to heal. The improved blood circulation also reduces the build up of lactic acid in the muscles and thus prevents pain and soreness. The earlier you start stretching a sprained ankle, the faster the rehabilitation process. When you sprain your ankle, the tendency is to rest it for a prolonged period of time. This rest period can cause the muscles around the ankle to stiffen up and tighten making normal movements difficult. As soon as you get the go ahead from your doctor, you should start including some basic sprained ankle stretches into your everyday routine.

Types Of Ankle Stretches

There are three types of ankle sprain stretches that gently increase your flexibility and heal the ankle joint:

Plantar Flexion Stretch

  1. Sit down or lie down with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Push your feet away from you by moving your ankles.
  3. Keep your knees straight throughout the stretch.
  4. Bend your foot as far forward as possible and hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Return to a neutral position.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Dorsi Flexion

  1. Sit down or lie down with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Pull your foot back towards you by moving your ankle.
  3. Keep your knees straight throughout the stretch.
  4. Bend your foot as far back as possible and hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Return to a neutral position.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Inversion

  1. Sit down or lie down with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Turn your foot inwards by moving your ankle.
  3. Keep your knees straight throughout the stretch.
  4. Bend your foot as far inwards as possible and hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Return to a neutral position.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Eversion

  1. Sit down or lie down with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Turn your foot outwards by moving your ankle.
  3. Keep your knees straight throughout the stretch.
  4. Bend your foot as far outwards as possible and hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Return to a neutral position.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle Stretches: Do's & Don’ts

Stretching is always a part of a warm up and not the warm up itself.

Do's

  • Ankle stretches should be done only after your muscles have been made pliable with some light exercise.
  • Stay hydrated even when you stretch, as this will allow your muscles to perform optimally.
  • Breathing normally through your nose will increase the delivery of oxygen to your muscles and help you hold your stretches for longer. 
  • Always listen to your body.
  • If anything hurts or pains too much stop what you are doing immediately.
  • Always make sure your spine is aligned and your back straight during your stretches (unless otherwise specified).

Don'ts

  • Never exercise a cold muscle that has not been warmed up with some jogging or brisk jogging.
  • Never bounce in a stretch or overreach as this can cause injury.

Ankle Stretches Benefits

  • Ankle stretches when done properly can keep the area strong and toned.
  • Stretches can prevent injury and muscle fatigue.
  • Soreness due to overuse can also be lessened with ankle stretches.
  • Ankle stretches also keep the lower extremities in good health as proper stretching can improve circulation and promote healing.
  • They keep our feet and legs strong and flexible and help us remain centered and stable.
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