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Weak ankles? These 7 mobility exercises will reduce your risk of injury

Taking time to improve your ankle and foot mobility will strengthen your joints and decrease the risk of injury.
Toe-to-heel walks are a great way to improve ankle mobility.
Toe-to-heel walks are a great way to improve ankle mobility.

Mobility work is essential for safely performing daily activities and decreasing our risk of injury. Mobility exercises are designed to help increase a joint’s range of motion, which in turn, helps strengthen the joint and prepares it for movements that may that are performed outside of your “comfort” or “safe” range.

Ankle and foot injuries are extremely common. We’ve all twisted or “rolled” our ankle at some point — often during seemingly harmless activities! Working on ankle mobility allows you to move the joint through its full range of motion, which decreases the chances you will experience pain and injury when walking, exercising or going about your normal daily activities.

Here are my favorite ankle and foot exercises to improve mobility. Many of these exercises can be done while you’re standing in line or even in an elevator or when cooking dinner. They also make a great addition to a warm up before a walk!

Single leg balance

Single leg balance

This is a daily exercise that can be done to improve foot and ankle mobility. Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart. If you need support to maintain stability, stand near a wall or chair so you can hold on for assistance. Otherwise, straighten your arms out by your sides and raise one knee up to stand on the opposite foot. Balance on one foot for 30 seconds, performing on each side for 2 reps.

Calf raises

Calf raises

Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Stand near a wall or chair if stability support is needed. Lift your heels off the floor to raise onto the balls of your feet. Slowly lower your heels back to the floor. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Toe to heel walks

Toe-to-heel walks

Find a space where you can walk about 10 feet forward. For the first round, walk the stretch of space on the balls of your feet, heels off the ground. Walk this way for 10 steps.

Toe to heel walks

Then, turn around for the second round. Walk the distance back on your heels with the balls of your feet off the ground. Repeat this 5 times. 

Split step lunge

Split-step lunge

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, take a long stride forward and pause. In this stretched-out position, with one foot in front and one foot behind, drive your front knee forward and your back knee toward the ground into a lunge. Maintain a straight back. Make sure that both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Step back to center. Repeat 5 times, and then switch which foot is forward and back.

Walking lunges

Walking lunges

Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a long stride forward, pushing your front knee forward and back knee toward the ground. Lower into a 90-degree angle with both knees. Press down through the front foot’s heel and press up. Then take another stride forward with the opposite side and repeat the same motion. Repeat for 5 steps with each foot.

Side lunge

Side lunge

Start in a standing position. Take a large step to the right with your right leg, keeping both feet pointing forward. Reach your right glute backward as your right knee bends over your right ankle. Lower down into a squat toward the right side while keeping the left leg straight. Press down through the right heel to bring the right leg back to center. Then repeat to the left. Repeat 5 times per side.

Achilles stretch

Achilles stretch

Find an empty space along a wall. Place your palms on the wall and move one foot back, maintaining a straight knee with the front leg. Bend the back leg and try to keep both heels flat on the floor. Then, push your hips forward to obtain a good stretching sensation in the calf and ankle. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Perform 3 reps on side.