7 Ankle Mobility Exercises for Improved Range of Motion

Joints with a wide range of motion frequently require multiple types of exercises to maintain strength. This is not only to strengthen your ankle joint but also to...

Joints with a wide range of motion frequently require multiple types of exercises to maintain strength. This is not only to strengthen your ankle joint but also to protect it from injury.  

If you suffer from poor ankle mobility (often exhibited as pain, stiffness, or limited range of motion), then you need ankle strengthening exercises. 

This guide will walk you through seven of the best ankle mobility exercises and how to perform them. 

Let’s dive in!

7 Mobility Exercises to Strengthen Your Ankles

Before we begin, please remember that the following exercises assume that you have no existing injuries or conditions that may limit or hinder your ankle movement.

If you have a physical condition that affects your ankles, consult your doctor to see if the exercises below are appropriate for you. 

That being said, let's get started.

1. Standing Heel Lifts

Standing heel lifts are one of the most basic and flexible exercises on the list. This simple movement stretches your ankle tendons while strengthening your calf muscles.

Ankle mobility exercises - standing heel lifts.

To perform this exercise, stand normally with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your heels off the ground while keeping your toes in place. Hold the stretch for 2-3 seconds, then return to standing. Ten reps should count as one set; a good exercise should include 2-3 sets.


If you’re struggling to maintain your balance as you lift, use a chair or any stable object to help with stability. 


This exercise can be done anywhere where standing is possible, like when you’re washing the dishes, making a phone call, or even waiting for an Uber outdoors. 


Note: For an added challenge, perform this workout on a step to allow your calves to squeeze in even more. 


2. Ankle Circles


Ankle circles are also a simple ankle exercise that requires little to no equipment. You only need a surface to sit on and an object to place under your leg. 


After stretching your foot forward, place the object under your leg, and rotate your ankle 10 times clockwise, then 10 times counterclockwise, before switching to the other leg. That's one set, and you'll need three to complete the exercise per leg


You may feel some stiffness in the first few reps, but that’s okay. The exercise’s primary focus is to loosen that stiffness and increase the range of motion


Note: You can easily perform this exercise while sitting down


3. Ankle Flexion


Depending on how you perform the exercise, ankle flexion exercises can be done in either plantar or dorsiflexion.


Plantar ankle flexion strengthens your ankle by allowing you to push your foot against a controlled resistance (typically a resistance band).


To perform this exercise, sit on your training mat (or the floor) and loop the band around your foot’s lower side. Hold the sides of the bands with your hands and push your toes slowly forward as if you’re doing a standing heel lift. 


This exercise's difficulty can be controlled by pulling harder or using a stronger band.


The ankle dorsiflexion variant does the opposite. Instead of pushing your feet, you will pull them. In addition, instead of holding the band in your hands, you'll tie it to something stable (such as a table leg) and wrap it around the upper side of your feet. 


Both exercises should be done in sets of 3x15


4. Single Leg Balance


Balancing on one leg is an excellent way to improve the strength of the tendons around your ankle, particularly the Achilles tendon


Explaining the exercise is as simple as it gets. Stand on one leg and hold for 30 seconds before switching. This requires you to complete three sets. 


You’d be surprised, however, at how many people find it difficult to maintain their balance because of the weak ankle muscles. As such, we’ll divide this one into three levels.


  • Level 1: Stand next to a wall so you can acquire minor assistance by using your hand. Only do so when needed, though.

  • Level 2: It’s about doing the single-leg balance completely unassisted.

  • Level 3: If level 2 is too easy for you, try doing a single-leg balance on a bosu ball for maximum challenge. 


Note: Only attempt level 3 if you’re quite confident with level 2 to avoid falling. 


5. Toe-to-Heel Walks


Toe-to-heel walks involve walking with half of your feet, which causes your ankle muscles to tighten slightly.


All you need for this exercise is an empty area where you can walk 10 consecutive steps in a straight line. 


To do the exercise, walk 10 steps on your toes, turn around, and then walk another 10 steps with your heels. You need to complete 3-5 sets to obtain good results.


Note: To avoid pain when walking with your heels, gently land them on the ground.


6. Lunges


Lunges are one of the more challenging workouts on the list. They work not only your ankles but also your leg's major muscle groups.


To do a lunge, start with one foot ahead of the other and bend your front knee until your back knee almost touches the ground. Keep your back straight as you do the exercise to avoid injury

Ankle mobility exercises - lunges.

Since this is a more challenging workout, two sets of 10 reps should be enough

If you easily manage this exercise, try walking or forward lunges to increase the difficulty. You can make the exercise more difficult by holding weights while lunging. 

7. Ankle Jumps

Ankle jumps are comparable in difficulty to lunges. They may not involve major muscle groups, but they add a good amount of tension to your ankles. 

Ankle jumpers are regular jumps but without the extra support that you gain from your knees. In other words, you have to jump without bending your knees

If your ankle muscles are weak, you will struggle with this exercise. Begin with only five jumps and two sets and work your way up to ten jumps and three sets. 

Note: To avoid injury, make sure to land on your toes rather than your ankles. 

Final Words

Weak ankles not only cause pain and discomfort, but they also put you at risk for ankle injuries. These seven ankle mobility exercises will help you strengthen your ankle joints and reduce your risk of injury.

However, don't overwork yourself to get quick results. Our bodies have limits on how quickly they can grow larger and stronger. As a result, you should prioritize recovery alongside exercise—your ankles will thank you.

You may try using our Thermo™ Lite Recovery Ankle Sleeve in your recovery regime in between and after exercises. This sleeve is designed specifically to improve ankle recovery.

The bamboo charcoal utilized in its construction can reduce chronic pain by up to 62% by improving the blood supply around the joint and reducing inflammation.

For more quality recovery wear, browse the shop at Thermo Recovery Wear today!


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