Ankle Strengthening for Runners: How To Strengthen Ankles For Running

How To Strengthen Ankles For Running

Ankle injuries are a common problem among runners. But what you might not know when you first start out is that these ankle injuries are also quite preventable.

The best way to avoid ankle injuries is by strengthening them, and there are plenty of exercises you can do for this.

As a runner, there will always be the worry of ankle injuries in the back of your mind, so work on strengthening your ankles so you can prevent it!

If you do want to strengthen your ankles for running, but don’t know where to start, then you have come to the right place!

Below you will find a few different exercises you can do in order to strengthen your ankles for running.

Tips on How To Strengthen Your Ankles For Running 

From calf raises to different kinds of stretches, there are plenty of different exercises you can implement into your routine.

  • Strengthening your ankles is one of the most important things you can do as a runner.
  • Having the right exercises for it is incredibly important. 

If you are ready to implement ankle-strengthening exercises into your workout routine, then read on to find out how to do it!

1. Calf Raises to Strengthen Your Ankles for Running

Calf raises, also known as standing heel raises are a fantastic exercise you can do in order to strengthen your ankles.

They involve pointing your feet away from your body and shifting your body weight via your feet.

Follow these instructions to do calf raises.

  1. Start by standing up straight, with your feet hip-length apart. 
  2. Once you have done this, you then want to slowly lift your heels off the ground. 
  3. Next, you simply slowly lower your heels back onto the ground. 

If you want to take this exercise to the next level, grab a ball and place it between your heels. This will ensure that you are fully engaging your ankles. 

2. Single-Leg Leg Balance for Ankle Stability

The single-leg balance will increase your ankle stability, but it will also improve your hip and knee stability as well.

It also helps to improve your balance, which is incredibly important for every runner. 

Follow these instructions to do a single-leg balance. 

  1. Start by standing up straight and make sure that your feet are hip-length apart. 
  2. Next, shift your entire weight onto one of your feet and lift the other one off the ground, keeping the knee at 90 degrees. 
  3. Now, slowly move the lifted foot around in circles. 
  4. Bring the foot back down.
  5. Finally, repeat the exercise with the other foot. 

If you get really confident with this exercise, you can then go barefoot and attempt it on a wobble board! 

How To Strengthen Ankles For Running

3. Towel Grab to Strengthen the Muscles Around Ankles

The towel grab is fantastic for strengthening the muscles around your feet and ankles.

It will also drastically improve your ankle stability as well. This exercise can be done in a standing or sitting position. 

Follow these instructions to do a towel grab.

  1. Get a small towel and place it under your feet.
  2. Next, curl the toes of your right foot around the towel in order to grip it.
  3. Lift the towel off of the ground. 
  4. Hold it off the ground for a few seconds and then release. 
  5. Now, repeat the whole process with the other foot. 

4. Plantar Flexion Stretch to Improve Ankle Strength for Runners

The plantar flexion stretch is very similar to calf raises, and it improves flexibility and ankle strength.

This is a sitting-down exercise, so it’s perfect on those days when you don’t really want to stand up!

Follow these instructions to do a plantar flexion stretch.

  1. Sit down on the floor and make sure that your legs are stretched out in front of you.
  2. Point one foot away from you and hold it at that point.
  3. After about 10 to 15 seconds, stop.
  4. Now, repeat this process with the other foot. 

If you want to get more out of this stretch, you can use a resistance band.

All you have to do when using a resistance band is put it around the bottom of your foot in the middle and hold both ends.

You then point your foot away and pull on the band to increase resistance. 

This is a fantastic exercise and warm-up to do before you run! 

5. Dorsiflexion Stretch for Runners Ankles

The dorsiflexion stretch is the exact opposite of the plantar flexion stretch.

For this exercise, you will be bringing your toes up towards your chin instead of pointing them away.

This exercise aids in flexibility and it is fantastic for improving ankle strength. 

Follow these instructions to do a dorsiflexion stretch.

  1. Sit down on the floor and stretch your legs out straight in front of you. 
  2. Bend one foot up to your shin and hold it there.
  3. After 10 to 15 seconds, stop.
  4. Finally, repeat the whole process with your other foot. 

Like the plantar flexion stretch, you can also do the dorsiflexion stretch with a resistance band.

The difference here though is that you need to place the band either around the top of your foot in the middle, and then attach something heavy to the ends of the band. 

Why Does Ankle Strength Matter For Runners? 

Ankle strength is so important for runners because it will reduce the risk of injury and it will build up your overall stamina and strength. 

  • Whether you are a long-distance runner or a sprinter, ankle strengthening will give you strong glutes.
  • Ankle strengthening will give you more power in your stride, which means that you can run better. 

When you strengthen your ankles, you are less likely to roll them when you run and your balance will be better too.

This will prevent the likelihood of injuries and it will also mean that you won’t have to spend as much time in recovery. 

The Bottom Line

Strengthing your ankles is incredibly important, especially if you are a runner.

Running regularly can drastically increase the chances of gaining an ankle injury, so learning the appropriate ankles can prevent it. 

Use the exercises we have listed here to strengthen your ankle muscles and keep you running for much longer. 

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