Five Simple Exercises For Healthier Ankles

Injury While Hiking

I may have mentioned my ankle injury before. In March I went on a backpacking trip to Kaaha (kah-ah-hah) in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Most of the group went out early on Friday, but because I was working I had to head out in the early evening. It’s a 4 mile hike that takes 3-4 hours in daylight. I’ve never hiked this particular trail before so, of course, I took the wrong trail at the trailhead. Not a great start.

By the time I figured out that I was heading the wrong way it was getting dark. I had my headlamp and there aren’t any large animals to worry about, so I figured I would hike down in the dark. I was able to call the rest of the group on a weak cell phone signal so they knew my situation. Although it’s just 4 miles, the elevation change is about 2000 feet and most of that is in the first 2 miles on loose gravel. I think you can see where this is going…

As soon as started down the right path I rolled my right ankle. Hard. Now, the smart thing to do would have been be to set up camp right there at the trailhead and wait till morning. I wasn’t that smart. I took some ibuprofen, tightened my shoelaces and continued down the trail. Not 30 minutes later, I rolled my ankle again. Hard. I sat there for a few minutes, in a fair amount of pain. At this point I was thinking about what a dummy I am. I was also thinking that if I didn’t keep moving my ankle might swell up to the point where I wouldn’t be able to hike in the morning. I took a couple more ibuprofen and hiked the rest of the way. Being unfamiliar with the trail, I couldn’t find the last entrance to the camp ground and spent the night alone under the stars. You can imagine my (and my partners’) relief when I hobbled into camp at 6am.

It’s been 5 months and my ankle is finally starting to feel normal again. There is still some pain when I flex or apply pressure at the wrong angle. It got me thinking that I’m at the point of needing to strengthen my ankle(s) again. I found this article with five easy stretches that can be done as easily at the office or on the couch. I thought it might be helpful for you too. I’ll provide summary below and a link to the full article at the bottom of the email.

5 Ways to Strengthen Weak Ankles

  1. Peroneal Tendon Stretch – Outside Ankle

This is the tendon I injured. Both times I rolled my ankle to the outside. I can still feel it when I think about it…

Gently put your weight on the outside edges of your feet and walk around. Do this for 60 seconds at a time. This is a stretch and a strengthening move.

  1. Ankle Circles

This one is pretty self-explanatory. From a seated position extend your leg straight out. Make a clockwise circle with your ankle 10-20 times. Take a short rest – 5 to 10 seconds with your leg down, then do it again, but rotate counterclockwise. Do this 3 or 4 times per leg.

  1. Toe Stretch

This is a straight stretching move. Sit on the floor with one leg straight. The other leg should be crossed (think half of an “indian style” sit). The foot of your bent leg should be touching the inner thigh of your straight leg. Use a towel to gently pull the toes of your straight leg towards you. You can also sit like the image here or do the same stretch while sitting in your chair – just keep your “stretching” leg straight.


  1. Practice Your ABC’s.

Try this! Really. From a comfortable seated position hold your leg out straight and “write” the letters of the alphabet in capital form with your toes. Then repeat in lower case. It’s harder than it sounds and you get an amazing range of motion stretch by do this exercise. Repeat the sequence with your other leg.

  1. Standing Achilles Stretches

This is one that gets ignored a lot, but shouldn’t be. Your Achilles tendon is a key to your foot stability. Professional athletes who rupture their Achilles tendon are sometimes never the same. As we age our bodies need more maintenance to stay functional.

From a standing position step one leg back and keep your forward knee bent at about a 45 degree angle. Press the heel of your back leg into the ground and lean your hips forward – try to apply the forward pressure with just your hips not your whole torso. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch leg positions and repeat. Do this 3 or 4 times per side. You can also use a wall for support like the image I attached.


Wrap Up

I hope your take these to heart. Daily stretching can be an important factor to muscle, tendon, and ligament health as we age or recover from injury.

Here’s the original article from if you want to check it out.

The post featured image is from: