Importance of Ankle Health

two senior adults lace their sneakers before exercising

When you think of preventing joint injuries, the ankle may not be the first body part that comes to mind. You may be surprised to learn how important ankle mobility is to ensuring overall physical health. 

Your ankles play a critical role in shock absorption in your body. If the range of motion of your ankles is limited, you will begin to compensate in ways that you may not realize at first. Over time your knees, hips and lower back will begin to absorb shock, leading to pain and inflammation.

Preserve and Improve Ankle Mobility
To preserve ankle mobility and overall joint health, try the three mobility exercises below. To get the most benefit from stretching exercises and to prevent injury, we recommend warming up your body first with a short walk around the house or the block.

  • Ankle Circles - Start in a seated position on the floor, couch or bed. With your right leg extended straight in front of you, make a circular motion with your toes five times to the right. Reverse direction, making a circular motion with your toes five times to the left. Switch legs and repeat. Repeat each leg three times.
  • Calf Stretches - Stand and face a wall with your palms placed flat on the wall for support. Flex your right foot with your heel resting on the ground and your toes touching the wall in front of you. Slowly shift your weight to your right leg until you feel a stretch along the back of your right leg. Hold for five-10 seconds. Gently release the stretch and repeat on your left leg. Repeat each leg three times.
  • Plantar Flexion and Dorsiflexion - Start in a seated position on the floor, couch or bed. With your legs extended straight in front of you, point your toes toward the wall. Hold for three-five seconds, then bring your toes up and back toward your shin. Hold for three-five seconds. Repeat eight-10 times.

Start Slow and Seek Medical Advice
Beginners should start out by performing ankle mobility exercises without any resistance - just your own body weight. As you begin to make progress or if you are an intermediate, you can incorporate resistance bands, a stretching strap or even a belt.

As with any exercise program, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any program. Be sure to inform your doctor of any pain, stiffness or inflammation that you are experiencing. Your doctor may advise that you work with a Physical Therapist to begin regaining ankle mobility.