There are 10 distinct ways to strengthen the ankles — and the stronger your ankle joint the less likely you’ll suffer a sprain or weakened ligaments.
As a former personal trainer, I wasn’t just helping people lose weight and build muscle. I also showed many clients how to strengthen their joints, from neck to ankle.
10 Best Ways to Strengthen the Ankles
1. Walk forward and backwards on the balls of your feet.
Turn your toes inward as well.
You’ll actually feel this in the sides of your thighs, but you are also working the ankle joint, strengthening the ligaments that bind it together.
Go 50 steps forward, and 50 backwards. Do not hold onto anything when you go backwards. Just make sure you won’t bump into anybody.
2. Pedal a stationary bike with just the balls of your feet. Do not use the foot straps.
3. If you use an elliptical trainer, pedal with just the balls of your feet, and turn your feet inward a little.
4. Do seated calf raises with light weights and many repetitions.
5. Walk backwards on a treadmill. Do not hold on. Start out very slowly at first.
If you hold on, you’ll cancel out the effect that the routine is supposed to have in the first place.
The ligaments in your ankles need to support your entire body weight in a natural motion — the natural motion of walking backwards without your hands holding anything for support.
6. Take up jogging.
7. Do brisk walks on uneven surfaces, such as grassy areas. Go hiking on trails that offer a variety of terrain.
8. Take step aerobics classes.
9. Take up inline skating. It’s best to do this after you’ve been exercising your ankles for a while, since this activity will make ankles ache in people who are not very conditioned.
10. “A precise ankle adjustment followed by proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) exercises/stretches — which are implemented in the Power Kinetics® Home Exercise Program —may be the single most important factors in restoring optimal functionality and strength to your ankle/foot complex,” explains Eugene Charles, DC, Diplomate of applied kinesiology and author of “Journey to Healing: The Art and Science of Applied Kinesiology.”
How should you treat a simple ankle sprain?
“The number one way to treat ankle sprains — and the most overlooked — is that you must have the ankle bone (talus) realigned by a doctor of chiropractic or osteopathy,” says Dr. Charles.
“When you sprain an ankle your talus bone usually slips out of alignment, and this explains why people usually have weak ankles form then on out.”
The Compression Bandage
I have had superb results with using a compression bandage.
It’s amazing how effective these can be. I ice the ankle, if it’s swollen, several times a day for 20 minutes.
Do not ice for longer than 20 minutes, and let at least two hours go in between ice treatments.
Keep foot elevated as much as possible. And keep the compression bandage on at all times.
The kind I use is tight enough to force me to remove it after a few hours. After my foot has a break from it, I put it back on again.
HOWEVER … if at any point you begin feeling tingling or numbness from the bandage, immediately loosen it. There’s also no need to sleep in it.
I have restored mildly sprained ankles in as little as three days with icing and the compressive bandage.
Another option is the air cast, shown below.
For more severe sprains, you’ll want to consider talus bone realignment.
Strengthening the ankles should be a priority for any athlete and fitness enthusiast. We all know how much a sprained ankle interferes with activities.
Dr. Charles has helped thousands of patients and taught over 1,200 doctors during his 30+ years of practice. He has also created the Power Kinetics® Exercise Program and line of nutritional vitamins and performance supplements. amazon.com/Journey-Healing-Science-Applied-Kinesiology/dp/0964421763
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.