7 Important Exercises You’re Probably Neglecting

7 Important Exercises You’re Probably Neglecting

Ankles are often neglected when it comes to your strength-training routine, but they shouldn’t be. Strong, flexible ankles are an important foundation, helping prevent injury whether you’re running back and forth on the tennis court or running to catch the bus. The good news is just a few minutes a day can help keep the sprains away. If it’s been a while since you gave those joints any extra attention, read on for an ankle-strengthening exercise for each day of the week.

| Calf Raises u2014 Basic

Raising the heels destabilizes your ankle joints. Not only are you strengthening your calves with this exercise, but you’re also challenging the muscles that support the ankle joint.

  • Position your feet hip-width apart.
  • Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes, then slowly lower back down to the ground. Take three slow counts to raise and lower your heels.
  • Do 20 reps.

| Calf Raises u2014 External Rotation

Changing the angle of the feet by rotating the legs outward challenges different muscles of the lower leg than working in parallel. This position will work your arch of your foot more too, and a strong arch helps prevent the ankle from rolling inward.

  • Position your feet hip-width apart, then externally rotate your thighs to turn your toes outward at about a 45-degree angle.
  • Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes, then lower back down to the ground. Take three slow counts to raise and lower your heels.
  • Do 20 reps.

| Calf Raises u2014 Internal Rotation

Once again, the different foot position will challenge different parts of the lower leg and feet.

  • Position your feet hip-width apart, then by rotating at your hip joints turn your toes inward so they are almost touching.
  • Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes, then lower back down to the ground. Take three slow counts to raise and lower your heels.
  • Do 20 reps.

| Plantar Flexion With Resistance Band

Adding the resistance band helps to strengthen the muscles of the arch. And a strong arch helps prevent overpronation (excessive rolling inward of the ankle).

  • Sit on the floor with your right leg extended. Wrap one end of a resistance band around the ball your right foot and hold the other end in your hands. Keep toes flexed up.
  • Slowly press your foot forward pointing it as you maintain the band’s resistance, then return to the starting position.
  • Do 20 reps, then repeat on left side.

| Dorsi Flexion With Resistance Band

Dorsi flexion, pulling the toes toward your body, works the muscles that support the front of the ankle.

  • Get a resistance band and sit on the floor a couple of feet in front of a fixed object (like a heavy table leg). Attach one end of the resistance band to the fixed object, then loop it over your right toes.
  • Start with your foot angled with toes pointing forward, then slowly pull your foot back toward your knee.
  • Do 20 reps, then repeat on left side.

| Lateral Hops

This is an essential move for runners to strengthen the lower body. Hopping side to side helps condition the muscles around the ankle for stability when making quick lateral direction changes found in tennis, basketball, and soccer.

  • With your right foot slightly off the ground, balance on your left foot.
  • Hop back and forth over an imaginary line laterally for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the same motion, balancing on your right foot.
  • Rest 30 seconds, and repeat the exercise three times.

| Heel Walks

This weight-bearing exercise works the muscles that support the front of the ankle and strengthens the feet too. You can do heel walks with or without shoes.

  • Lift both your feet so you are on your heels as you walk. Keep toes pointed forward but off the ground.
  • Take 20 small steps as you walk forward, then turn around and walk back.