Ankle Mobility Stretches

Ankle Mobility Stretches

Many people overlook ankle mobility stretches, and this is a big mistake. Taking a little time before training or cardio to prepare your ankles for movement can save you a lot of aggravation.

The truth is, ankle mobility is vital for your overall athletic ability, as well as safety while training. And it’s also important for just getting around in everyday life.

Mobile ankles allow us a greater range of motion and the ability to perform many exercises safely. Immobile ankles decrease our performance and increase our risk of injury, even at lower intensities. And ankle injuries, and even slight discomfort in your ankles, can be very debilitating in your training as well as your life. (1)

Four Benefits of Ankle Mobility Stretches

The fact is, few people pay attention to their feet, let alone the mobility aspect. After all, how important can ankle mobility be?

However, regular ankle stretches are important and deliver some fantastic benefits. 

Here are four of them:

  1. They allow you to perform various movements safely and with a full range of motion. 
  2. Your risk of injuries (particularly strains) is much lower because your ankle has a naturally broader range of motion.
  3. Better ankle mobility benefits running performance because adequate dorsiflexion and plantar flexion allow you to absorb the shock better. (2)
  4. Good ankle mobility also allows for better lateral movement. We often see ankle mobility two-dimensionally. But, the truth is, good ankle mobility allows you to move your feet freely front to back, as well as side to side.

Four Fantastic Ankle Mobility Stretches You Can Start Doing Today

Toe Point and Ankle Roll

Ankle Stretch Toe Point

  1. Start in the standing position with your feet approximately 6″ apart.
  2. With your left foot, rotate your foot off the ground until your foot is nearly vertical and your toe remains on the ground. Hold for 3 seconds.
  3. Return to the start position.
  4. Then roll your left foot to the left side (to the outside) and hold for 3 seconds.
  5. Return to the start position.
  6. Repeat 3 times, then stretch the right ankle.  

Cross-leg Ankle Stretch and Rotations

Ankle Stretch Seated

  1. Sit on a chair and place your right foot over your left thigh as shown. Place your left hand on your foot and your right hand on your right knee.
  2. Gently push your right foot downward, as if you were pointing your toes down. Hold the position for a few seconds; you should feel a nice stretch on the front side of your ankle.
  3. Then slowly roll your foot in a clockwise direction for 5 seconds. Then roll in a counterclockwise direction.
  4. After that, release and do several more repetitions. Then, repeat with your left foot.

Forward Toe Point With Ankle Rotations

Stretching Ankle Exercises

  1. From the standing position, elevate one foot in front of you with your toe pointed forward. Make sure to maintain your balance.
  2. Start making circles with it, moving and rotating your toe in a circular direction.
  3. Begin with small circles and progressively try to make them larger and larger.
  4. Do circles clockwise and counter-clockwise, and always make sure to draw good circles instead of merely moving your ankle back and forth.
  5. Do rotations in each direction for 5 seconds, then repeat with the other foot.

Seated Ankle Stretches 

Seated Ankle Stretch

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Point your toes forward, and hold the position for 3 seconds.
  3. Then rotate you feet so your toes point directly up (not to the side). Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Repeat 5 times, and feel the stretch in your ankles. 

Ankle Stretch Dorsal Flexion

Ankle Stretch Dorsal Flexion

  1. Start in the standing position and your feet 6″ apart.
  2. Lift your toes off the ground several inches in the upward, or dorsal, direction. Dorsal = Upward
  3. Return to the start position.
  4. Repeat 5 times.

Standing Heel Lifts for Ankle Mobility

Risks of Not Doing Ankle Mobility Stretches

The most notable drawback of not doing ankle stretches before exercise is that your range of motion might be limited. This can decrease your performance and prevent you from doing many activities freely. Squats are a prime example here, as they need reliable ankle mobility. (3)

Another risk of not doing ankle stretches is that you increase the risk of injuries, especially on more intense cardio workouts where good ankle mobility is vital.

Effective ankle stretches don’t take that long to do but can be incredibly beneficial for your performance and longevity.

Click to return to more stretching routines.

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David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

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  1. Mazzo, L. (2017). Are Weak Ankles Effing Up the Rest of Your Body? Shape.
  2. Seymour, T. (2017). Dorsiflexion: Injuries and mobility exercises. Medical News Today.
  3. Skwarecki, B. (2020). How to Improve Your Ankle Mobility for Squats. Lifehacker.

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