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Ankle-Strengthening Exercises To Prevent Injury


Our ankles deal with a lot! They do so much for us, day in, day out. And while they are surprisingly strong and sturdy for such small body parts, they do have their limits. Unfortunately, that means that from time to time, the stressors and risks they constantly face can catch up with them. 

Most people have stepped the wrong way on a bumpy path and twisted an ankle to some degree or have experienced aching ankles after a big day at work. You may have sustained an ankle injury while playing sport or have a health condition that is leading to degeneration in the ankle joint.  

There are many factors and issues that can cause decreased mobility, pain, and inflammation in the ankle. One way to minimise the risk of injury is to keep your ankles as strong as possible. Many exercises and stretches have significant befits for ankle strength and stability and are great to add into your weekly workouts. 

Weak, stiff ankles can lead to injuries and degeneration. Find out how to strengthen your ankles with these strengthening, stability, and rehab ankle exercises.


How Do I Know If My Ankles Need Strengthening? 

Our ankles are complex. They consist of three bones and many important muscles, ligaments, and tendons. That intricate network must deal with constant balance and stability challenges, weight bearing, and shock absorption. With so many elements within it and stressors to face, ankles can be injured in multiple ways, from broken bones to torn tendons to bursitis.  

Subsequently, everyone’s ankles need to be as strong as possible. People who have additional risks should particularly focus on ankle strength. This may include people who: 

  • Take part in high energy and impact sports and exercise, such as running, skateboarding, and soccer.
  • Have an increased fall risk, such as seniors or people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Have bone and joint health conditions, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.


A simple way to get an idea of the strength of your ankles is to stand on one leg without support. Moving about, wobbling, and being unable to maintain your balance could indicate weak ankles.


Four Ankle-Strengthening Exercises 

The great news is that increasing and maintaining ankle strength is quite easy. The following exercises can be incorporated into your regular workouts, or you can sporadically do one or two throughout the day, such as while you are waiting for the kettle to boil.


  1.     Calf raises 

Place your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Slowly lift your heels and move onto your toes in a controlled manner. Return your feet to the ground. Keep your ankles in a neutral position throughout the move. 

Calf raises simulate and strengthen plantar flexion. If you do not feel comfortable doing this type of movement while standing or want to change things up, you can sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you and press the top of your foot away from your body and then return to a natural position. You can increase the intensity by placing a resistance band around the bottom of one foot and, sitting upright and holding the band with both hands, carry out the exercise.


  1.   Shin raises 

Place your feet on the ground, hip-width apart. In contrast to the calf raises, slowly lift your toes and move your weight into your heels. Return your toes to the ground. Keep your ankles in a neutral position throughout the move. 

Shin raises simulate and strengthen dorsiflexion. As with calf raises, you can sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you to do this exercise. Pull the top of your foot towards your body and then return to a natural position. As with calf raises, you can intensify this move with a resistance band.


  1.   Ankle circles 

While standing, sitting, or lying down, move your feet at the ankle joint in slow circles without your feet touching anything. Change between clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, and small and large circles. You can add a twist to this by drawing the letters of the alphabet in the air with your toes.


  1.   Four-square drills 

Mark out a square on the ground with chalk or tape and divide it into four more squares. Balance on one foot and hop into each square. Alternate between a round in a clockwise direction, a round in an anti-clockwise direction, hopping side-to-side, and hopping back to front, front to back. Repeat with the other foot.


Improve Mobility And Reduce Risk With Ankle Exercises  

Maintaining strong ankles can be highly beneficial in preventing ankle issues as well as injuries to other body parts due to falls or misalignment. If you have weak ankles, have injured them in the past, or have issues currently with ankle discomfort, come in and see our physios for a thorough assessment and discussion regarding the best ankle exercises for you. We will create a plan to suit your goals and help you improve your ankle strength, stability, and mobility.



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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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