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11 Top Ankle Mobility Exercises for Injury Prevention

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11 Top Ankle Mobility Exercises for Injury Prevention

When it comes to preventing injuries and improving athletic performance, ankle mobility exercises often take a backseat. Compare the ankles to other joints like the hips or shoulders, and it’s pretty clear where the attention goes. 

However, neglecting your ankles can be a big mistake. They’re responsible for your balance, so if you don’t take care of them, you’ll likely suffer from chronic instability.

In this article, we’ll teach you how to reduce the risk of injury with 11 ankle mobility exercises that you can do at home.

The Importance of Ankle Mobility

The Importance of Ankle Mobility

Despite their relatively small size, ankles play a critical role in your mobility and overall well-being.

They allow you to perform daily activities and sports with ease. Good ankle mobility not only prevents injuries but it also:

  • Enhances your agility
  • Keep your balance
  • Allows for functional movement and a wider range of motion

Factors Affecting Ankle Joint Mobility

Factors Affecting Ankle Joint Mobility

Ankle mobility can be affected by these main factors:

  • Genetics
  • Previous injuries
  • Lifestyle choices

Understanding these factors can help you improve your ankle flexibility. 

But what can help you neutralize some of the consequences of poor ankle mobility? And what can you do today to improve ankle mobility, plantar flexion, and your dorsiflexion range?

Let’s see:

  • Glucosamine supplementation can improve joint function, which in turn helps the ankle joint gain back some of its flexibility.
  • Ankle mobility exercises can help you regain a wider range of motion and improve ankle mobility.
  • Stretching therapy can help prevent injuries and prepare you for a workout.

Understanding Ankle Dorsiflexion

Understanding Ankle Dorsiflexion

Ankle dorsiflexion is the upward bending of your ankle. It’s essential for everyday activities like walking and running, as well as maintaining balance.

Limited dorsiflexion can result in problems such as shin splints or ankle sprains.

Improved dorsiflexion implies a reduced risk of injuries and better sports performance.

Top 11 Ankle Mobility Exercises

Let’s explore the best ankle mobility exercises for improving ankle dorsiflexion mobility, range of motion, and decreasing the risk of ankle injury:

Most Popular Ankle Mobility Exercises

Let’s start with the basics. Calf raises are great exercises to strengthen muscles. They also improve ankle mobility. 

Hence, our best ankle mobility exercises are perfect for beginners, and quite popular among fitness pros too.

Here they are:

1. Calf Raises

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your heels as high as you can to promote ankle dorsiflexion.
  • Hold briefly at the peak, working on your ankle joint’s full range of motion.
  • Slowly lower your heels back down.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps, enhancing both the calf muscle and ankle mobility.

2. Ankle Mobility Drills

2. Ankle Mobility Drills

How to do it:

  1. To start the ankle mobility drill exercise, sit on the floor with your legs extended.
  2. Keep one leg straight, Then, bend the other knee, bringing the sole of your foot flat on the floor.
  3. While keeping your heel on the ground, draw ankle circles with your toes in a clockwise direction.
  4. After 10–15 seconds, switch to counterclockwise circles.
  5. Repeat the same process with the other ankle.

3. Heel Cord Stretch

How to do it:

  • Stand facing a wall.
  • Put your hands (palms) on the wall.
  • Step one foot back, maintaining an adequate ankle dorsiflexion range.
  • Keep the heel of the foot on the ground, promoting flexibility in the ankle joint.
  • Gently lean forward to stretch the calf.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to improve ankle dorsiflexion and tight ankles. Switch to the other leg.

4. Resistance Band Exercises

How to do it:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended to target ankle mobility.
  • Secure a resistance band around your toes, emphasizing dorsiflexion.
  • Flex your foot against the resistance band, working on controlled ankle joint movement.
  • Release slowly, focusing on the range of motion.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps to enhance both ankle mobility and calf strength.

5. Balance Exercises

5. Balance Exercises

How to do it:

  • Stand on one foot, challenging ankle stability and mobility.
  • Maintain this position for 30 seconds, emphasizing proprioception.
  • Switch to the other foot to ensure balanced ankle mobility.
  • Repeat this sequence three times on each foot to reduce the risk of ankle mobility issues.

6. Standing Calf Stretch

How to do it:

  • Start with your hands on the wall.
  • Step one foot back to target calf flexibility and ankle mobility.
  • Keep the heel of your back foot on the ground, emphasizing dorsiflexion.
  • Lean into the stretch, promoting soft tissue release.
  • Hold for 30 seconds on each leg to enhance ankle mobility and help you avoid ankle injuries.

Intermediate Ankle Mobility Exercises

Intermediate Ankle Mobility Exercises

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to advance with ankle mobility exercises. These intermediate exercises challenge your range of motion while improving your ankle’s strength and flexibility.

7. Toe Taps

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a chair with your feet on the ground.
  2. Lift your toes upward while keeping your heels on the ground, promoting dorsiflexion.
  3. Lower your toes back down, focusing on controlled ankle joint movement.
  4. Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps to enhance both ankle mobility and range of motion.

8. Dorsiflexion Stretch

How to do it:

  1. Kneel on the floor to target dorsiflexion ankle mobility.
  2. Sit back on your heels, emphasizing ankle flexibility.
  3. Flex your toes toward your shins, promoting full dorsiflexion.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg to improve ankle mobility and prevent limited dorsiflexion.

9. Eversion and Inversion

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Turn your foot inward and then outward, promoting ankle joint control.
  3. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps for each foot to enhance overall ankle mobility and stability.

Advanced Ankle Mobility Exercises

Advanced Ankle Mobility Exercises

Now it’s time to take your ankle mobility to the next level. These advanced exercises combine strength and mobility training for efficient movement.

If you have poor ankle mobility or an ankle sprain, don’t force your range of motion with these ankle flexion exercises.

10. Dynamic Lunges

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step one foot forward into a lunge, focusing on full dorsiflexion.
  3. Lower your body while keeping your back straight, working on controlled movement.
  4. Push back to the starting position, utilizing your ankle’s range of motion.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg to enhance ankle mobility and stability.

11. Jump Rope Drills

How to do it:

  1. Grab a jump rope to improve cardiovascular fitness and ankle mobility.
  2. Begin with basic jumps, emphasizing ankle joint flexibility.
  3. Gradually incorporate tricks and variations to challenge ankle mobility.
  4. Aim for 5–10 minutes of jumping to enhance overall ankle mobility and reduce the risk of ankle injuries.

The Ankle Mobility Test

The ankle mobility test is a quick way to check the range of motion in your ankle joint and spot any ankle mobility issues.

To perform this test, follow these steps:

  1. Sit comfortably on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Extend one leg straight in front of you.
  3. Flex your foot upward, bringing your toes as close to your shin as possible.
  4. Maintain this position while keeping your heel on the ground.
  5. Measure the angle between your toes and the floor.

Ideally, your foot should be able to flex upward at a 90-degree angle or more from the floor.

If you find that you have poor ankle mobility, it may be an indication of limited range of motion in the ankle dorsiflexion.

Conclusion

Dedicate some time to these exercises, and notice how your ankle flexibility changes drastically. You’ll reduce the risk of injuries and become a more agile and mobile version of yourself in no time.

Plus, you’ll improve your dorsiflexion range of motion and plantar flexion. Thus, you’ll reduce chronic ankle instability.

For more advice on stretching exercises and the best home gym equipment, check out USA Home Gym.

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