This article was provided by Training-Conditioning

Strong ankles are essential for athletic performance. Unfortunately, this area of the body can be very susceptible to injury, which means that strengthening the ligaments and muscles around the ankles is all the more important. Here are some exercises to help make that happen.

Stana Landon of Active.com explains that ankles are put under a lot of stress any time an athlete performs a movement like running, cutting, or jumping. Strong ankles will be better able to handle this stress, and athletes will be less likely to experience chronic injuries, such as shin splints and Achilles tendonitis. That’s why she suggests incorporating a number of ankle-strengthening exercises into your training.

Balance Training

Better balance increases proprioception, which is the body’s ability to realize its place in space.

Single-Leg Squats

While standing on one leg, do a half squat. Do 10 reps with the opposite leg out in front, 10 with it to the side, and 10 with it behind. Repeat this three times on each leg.

Leg Stand

Start by standing on one leg for 30 seconds and then switch. Gradually work your way up to holding each stand for a minute.

Balance and Catch 

Stand on one leg directly across from a partner. Then, throw a ball back and forth with the partner, and have them throw it to the left and right, as well as low and high. Aim to perform three sets of 30 throws.

Building Strength

For ankle-strengthening exercises, Landon suggests using a TheraBand. This is a great tool for providing resisted range of motion in every direction, such as inversion, eversion, dorsiflexion, and plantar flexion. During these exercises, place the band around the top of the foot and curl the toes at the end of each movement. This will help work the foot’s internal muscles. Each exercise should be done in three sets of 20.

Along with using the TheraBand, Landon also suggests doing calf raises to build ankle strength. These are simple and don’t require any equipment. They should be done both seated and standing in order to target both the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Aim for three sets of 20.

Lastly, Landon recommends doing plyometric exercises to toughen up the ankles. These jumping movements will help make the muscles around the ankles stronger and more explosive. Two exercises she mentions are scissor hops and standing squat jumps.

Scissor Hops

Start in the lunge position. Then, jump and switch feet in mid-air, landing with the opposite foot forward. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Squat Jumps

Start by getting into a quarter-squat position. Then, explode up from there into a jump and land back down softly. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

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