A person's ankles carry a lot of weight, so it is important to stretch out the ankle muscles. Ankle stretches can not only help improve ankle mobility, but they can also contribute to having healthy feet and knees. There are several ankle stretches that can help with all of these areas. It is imperative to do complete ankle stretches before strenuous exercising or playing sports, as ankle injuries can be quite common.
The first ankle stretch involves removing shoes and sitting down on the front edge of a chair, with pillows supporting the back. Legs should be held out in front of the chair until completely outstretched. Holding the heels on the floor, the toes are pointed away from the body until a stretch is felt in the upper part of the ankle; if no stretch is felt, the heels should be raised slightly off the floor. This position should be held for about 20 seconds and then released; the stretch can be done five to ten times. A variation of this stretch can be done while sitting on the floor, with legs stretched away from the body.
Similar to the previous stretch, this next stretch also involves either sitting in a chair or on the floor. In the other stretch, the toes were being pointed away from the body. Alternatively for this stretch, the toes should be pushed toward the body. The leg should be kept straight while performing this stretch, and repeated five to ten times.
Loosening up the ankle joint is also an important part of a warm-up. This can be done by sitting in a chair and bringing the right leg up on top of the left, with the knee pointing outward. Using the right hand, the leg is grabbed immediately above the ankle joint, with the left hand firmly holding the foot. The foot is pulled toward the stomach and held for about five seconds; it is then pushed in the opposite direction, again held for five seconds. Slowly and gently, the ankle is then rotated before repeating with the left ankle.
Another of the most popular ankle stretches is the inversion and eversion of the ankle. To do this, a person sits on the ground with the legs straight out in front of the body. The foot is turned inward as far as it can go without it being painful, and is held in this position for 10 to 15 seconds. Sitting in the same position, the ankle is turned outward as far as it will go without causing pain, and is held for 10 to 15 seconds.
Engaging in some jumping, hopping, and skipping activities beforehand also helps to warm up and prepare the ankle muscles for more involved training. Ideally, these types of activities would be preformed after stretching and before playing sports or participating in aerobic exercise. Stretching helps lengthen the muscles, and longer muscles are more powerful and have better elasticity.
These are the most popular ankle stretches that are commonly done to warm up ankle muscles and joints. Ankle injuries are among the most common athletic injuries, so it is important to always warm up this part of the body. Stretching not only helps to avoid injury, but it contributes to maximizing performance.