Ankles are important weight-bearing joints in the body. If the ankles are strong, you get less sprains and fractures in the feet, and your athletic performance is improved. They also prevent injury to the knee joint, which is another important weight-bearing joint in the body.
It is necessary to understand the motions of the ankle. There are four basic motions. The first is the plantar flexion. This motion is used when we point our toes away from our body. The next is the dorsi flexion. When the toes are pulled upward off the ground, the motion is the dorsi flexion. The motion where the toes point inward is called inversion, and when the toes point outward, it is known as eversion. The joint is often sprained due to excessive and repeated inversion, which is a natural tendency in many people.
There are different causes that can cause damage to the ankle joint. It can be caused by walking or running on an uneven surface or even by plain overuse. Practicing the following exercises routinely strengthens the joint and helps it remain injury-free.
Exercise # 1
This is an easy exercise. Stand with the same distance between your feet as between your shoulders. Slowly shift your weight to the right leg, and lift the left leg off the floor. To balance yourself, keep looking at an unmoving object in front of you. When you are standing in the position, you will realize that the ankle is constantly making minor adjustments to balance the weight on different parts of the ankle. This helps in working the supporting muscles of the ankles, which are vital components of the joint. Release the position and repeat the same on the other leg.
Exercise # 2
This is a simple exercise known as step-up. You will need a step stool or a staircase to do this exercise. Place the right foot completely on the stool and leave the other foot on the ground. Slowly lift the left foot off the ground, and straighten the right knee. Bring the left foot back to the ground and repeat the exercise on the right foot. Do 10-12 repetitions on each leg.
Exercise # 3
The next exercise helps dorsi flexion and plantar flexion. To do this exercise, you will have to roll up a towel under the right calf and bend the left leg. Lock the right knee and flex your foot towards your body. Hold the position for 10 to 12 seconds. Repeat the exercise 6 times before you swap legs.
There are different isometric exercises which can also be practiced, but they should be performed in front of a health care provider. If you feel any pain in any part of the foot (the feeling of soreness after stretching a muscle is fine, pain is not) while doing the exercises, stop doing the exercise immediately. If you have hurt your ankle, then talk to your health care professional before you repeat the exercise.