You want to pull out your red spangled stilettos for Wear Something Gaudy Day on October 17, but you’re almost afraid to wear them because you keep falling off and wrenching your ankle. Even a jog to the mailbox and back in your sneakers can send twinges of pain through the joint. These are typical symptoms of ankle instability—a looseness that allows the bones to move too much when walking. Fortunately, there are exercises for strong ankles to help make them stable again.

Check with us first, so we can diagnose the cause of your weak ankles and chose exercises that will work best to strengthen them. Remember to warm up by walking or biking for 5 – 10 minutes, and do some heel cord stretches first:

  • Stand facing a wall, one leg slightly bent, the other behind you and straight, with heels on the floor. Lean forward at the hips until you feel a slight stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold, repeat 10 times, rest, and then do another set. Repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Now do the entire sequence with the back leg also bent slightly. This extends the stretch around the sides of your ankle into your heel.

Now you are ready to start some moves to build ankle strength. Here are a few:

  • Stand behind a chair and hold the back lightly for balance. Lift one foot. Keeping the weight-bearing knee straight, slowly raise the heel as high as you can and lower it again several times. Rest, repeat, then do the other leg.
  • Now sit on a stool high enough so your feet don’t touch the floor. Pretend you are using your right big toe to write the letters of the alphabet in the air. Make small movements using your foot and ankle, not your leg, to increase range of motion in your ankle joint. Repeat with the other foot.
  • Loop a resistance band around the tops of your toes and a fixed object. Pull your toes back toward your body against the resistance. Then loop it under your toes and hold the ends, pressing your toes away from you against the tension.

Like these exercises? We have more! Just call the Ladera Ranch office of Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists at (949) 364-9255 (WALK) for accurate diagnosis and an exercise regimen to make your ankles strong again.