7 Ways to Strengthen Your Ankles

Your ankle muscles and joints go through a lot of wear and tear every single day, which may take a toll on your body over time. Weak ankles can impair your balance and increase the risk of sprains, which will eventually lead to chronic imbalance. The following ankle strengthening exercises may improve your stability, alleviate discomfort, and help you avoid future injuries.

7 Ankle Exercises to Strengthen and Stretch

ankle exercises

These exercises to strengthen your ankles will help increase your vitality and mobility.

Standing Calf Raises

Stand with your feet hip-width apart at the edge of a step. You can hold the wall or railing for stability. You can also perform this move standing next to a counter to hold onto for balance. Lift your heels all the way up until you’re standing on your toes, then lower back down. 

Repeat this move 10 times.

NOTE: Do this once a day.

Draw the Alphabet

You can easily do this move by standing or lying on your back. Here’s how to do it. Lie on your back or stand next to a sturdy table for balance. Lift one leg, flex your foot, and draw the letters of the alphabet with your toes. Repeat with the other foot.

NOTE: Do this once a day.

Hand-Foot War

Sit on a chair, and set your right foot flat on the ground. Bend forward, and place your right hand on the outside of your foot, and push as hard as you can. Try to hold and resist the force with your foot for 10 seconds. Then, put your hand on the ball of your foot, and repeat the move.

Repeat with your left foot.

NOTE: Do this 10 times on each foot, daily.

Stand On One Foot

Stand near to a counter or strong table with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the counter for support, and lift one foot off the ground. Try to balance on this foot for 20 to 30 seconds.

Repeat with the other foot.

NOTE: Do this twice a day or until you can do it without support.

Ankle Circles

Begin with a stretch. These ankle circles help improve your range of motion, and you can do them lying down. Put a folded towel or foam roller under your ankle. Rotate your ankle slowly in full circles. Do 10 circles clockwise and 10 counterclockwise. Try not to move your leg – only your foot and ankle.

NOTE: Do this once a day.

Heel Walks

If you have balance problems and are prone to falling, do this move by standing next to a wall that you can hold onto for balance. Raise your toes so that you’re standing on your heels. Walk across the room or the length of the wall.

NOTE: Do this once a day.

Resistance Push

This move requires a resistance band. Sit in a chair and raise your foot off the floor, and put the resistance band under the ball of your foot, holding the other end of the band with your hands. Gently flex your ankle down as far as possible. Then slowly return your foot to the opening position.

NOTE: Repeat 10 times with the other foot.

Weak Ankles Symptoms

The most common symptom of weak ankles is the ankles’ tendency to roll to the outside. Other symptoms may include:

  • Aching ankles and feet
  • Recurrent ankle sprains or injuries
  • Ankle turning outward when walking
  • Balance issues

Causes and Treatments

Injuries or certain pre-existing physical conditions often cause weak ankles. Let’s look at them and how to treat them.

Past Injury

Trauma to the ligaments, muscles, and bones in and around your ankles can cause weak ankles, especially if the injury doesn’t recover properly or you hurt yourself more than once.

Ankle injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures
  • Dislocation

Treatment for an ankle injury depends on the severity of the case. Sprains can usually be managed at home with adequate rest, icing, and elevating the foot to reduce swelling. A physician may further recommend wearing a bandage or brace, crutches, or physical therapy. More serious injuries like fractures and dislocation may require a cast or, in some cases, surgery.

Wearing Incorrect Footwear

There’s evidence that wearing unreliable footwear causes foot and ankle discomfort, infirmity, and deformations, such as hallux limitus and claw toe. Unreliable footwear applies to shoes that are too wide, narrow, long, or short or shoes without sufficient support. Wearing shoes that provide enough support for the activities they’re being used for will help protect your ankles from future injury.


Up to 50% of people with diabetes suffer from nerve damage called diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms can include aches and weakness in various parts of the body, including the ankles and feet. This condition often induces weakness in the muscles of ankles and the ones surrounding them as well as foot complications. Moreover, it can impair your range of motion and cause balance issues.

When to Work With Your Doctor

While most individuals or recovering patients can safely do these exercises at home, we recommend speaking to your doctor before committing to any exercise program. So, get checked out first, and have your doctor assess your situation properly and approve these exercises.


Reinforcing the muscles in and around your ankles can help improve your weak ankles. Try to make time for some of these exercises every day. Including them into your routine can help you recover good balance and posture for the long-term.


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