Best Ankle Strengthening Exercises for Weak Ankles

weak ankles

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Does it ever feel like your ankles are weak and may give out any time?

This is more common than you might think!

Weak ankles can cause you to have poor balance and unsteadiness, affect your walking (especially on uneven surfaces), and increase your chances of injuring yourself, such as with a sprained ankle.

If you have weak ankles and don’t trust them to support you, this may cause you to limit your activity level and overall make moving much more difficult than it should be. 

The good news is, there’s something you can do about it!

What Causes Weak Ankles?

There are a few reasons why you might suffer from or be at risk to develop weak ankles.

1. Natural foot and ankle structure

The natural shape of your foot and ankle can increase your chances of having weak ankles or suffering from an ankle injury that then leads to weakness.

A flat foot, for example, tends to cause the ankle to roll more inward. A high arch, which is the opposite of a flat foot, tends to cause the ankle to roll more outward.

Both of these can increase your odds of rolling the ankle, leading to a sprain or possibly an even more serious injury.

2. Previous ankle injury

If you’ve experienced a previous ankle injury, such as a sprain or fracture, you could be at a higher risk for developing weak ankles.

This is especially true if you never truly rehabbed your injury or allowed full recovery before jumping back into your normal routine.

3. Muscle imbalances

There’s always the chance that you may just naturally have a muscle imbalance around the ankles.

This means that certain muscles will tend to be short and tight, while others are more long and weak.

If all of the surrounding muscle imbalances aren’t corrected, then unsteady ankles will develop. 

4. Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions could cause weak ankles.

This might include any type of arthritis or inflammatory condition in the body, which could affect the quality and structure of the ankles joints and surrounding soft tissues.

Symptoms of Weak Ankles

How do you know if you have weak ankles?

You may notice one or more of the following:

  • Pain in the feet and/or ankles when walking and standing
  • Your ankles roll often
  • Wobbly ankles when standing or walking for long periods, especially on uneven surfaces
  • Ankle swelling and tenderness, especially if you notice your ankles roll often
  • Poor balance and unsteadiness

Best Ankle Strengthening Exercises

If you suspect or you’ve been told that you have weak ankles, it’s possible to make them stronger!

Here are the best exercises to strengthen your weak ankles.

For any exercise using a resistance band, you can use a light, medium or heavy resistance.

1. Resisted Ankle Dorsiflexion

strengthening exercises for weak ankles: resisted ankle dorsiflexion
strengthening exercises for weak ankles: resisted ankle dorsiflexion
  • Position yourself in sitting or on the floor with the legs stretched out in front of you.
  • You’ll need to either have someone hold the ends of the band for you, or connect the band around something sturdy in front of you, like a table leg.
  • Loop the band around the foot.
  • Keeping the knee straight, flex the foot and ankle all the way back and forth.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

2. Resisted Ankle Plantarflexion

resisted ankle plantar flexion 1
resisted ankle plantar
  • Position yourself in sitting or on the floor with the legs stretched out in front of you.
  • While holding the ends of the band in your hands, loop the band around the ball of foot.
  • Keeping the knee straight, point the foot and ankle all the way forward then back to where you started.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

3. Resisted Ankle Inversion

resisted ankle inversion 1
resisted ankle inversion
  • Position yourself in sitting or on the floor with the legs stretched out in front of you.
  • Hold the ends of the band in your hands, and loop the band around the ball of foot.
  • Angle both ends of the band away towards the outside of the foot.
  • Keeping the knee straight, allow the foot and ankle to point down and inward, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

4. Resisted Ankle Eversion 

resisted ankle eversion
resisted ankle eversion 1
  • Position yourself in sitting or on the floor with the legs stretched out in front of you.
  • Hold the ends of the band in your hands, and loop the band around the ball of foot.
  • Angle both ends of the band inward towards the inside of the foot.
  • Keeping the knee straight, allow the foot and ankle to flex back and move outward, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

5. Single Leg Balance

single leg balance 2
single leg balance 1 1
  • Stand in front of a sturdy surface, such as your countertop.
  • With your hands resting on the surface, shift your weight so that you’re standing on one leg.
  • Make sure to squeeze the glutes and stand as tall as your can.
  • When you feel ready, try to balance without holding on.
  • Use the sturdy surface to help you if you feel too unsteady to try this without your hands.
  • Practice standing on one leg for up to 30 seconds, then practice on the other side.
  • Repeat for 3 sets on each leg.

While standing on one leg may seem like a simple task, it’s harder than you might think!

If you’re noticing or suspect you have weak ankles, be proactive and try these exercises!

Not only will you notice your ankles getting stronger, but you’ll feel more confident and secure with your movement.

Wondering What's Next?

Discover 11 Easy, At-Home “Stretch Exercises” for Stronger, Pain-Free Joints (click below)

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