Flexible ankles help prevent injuries while walking, running, skiing, or playing sports. We don’t usually pay much attention to these joints until we hurt them. Then we realize how important they are to our health. For example, if you sprain an ankle and can’t even walk, let alone run or play tennis, your body will get out of shape quite quickly. This exercise also stretches out calf muscles often contracted during sports, so it’s especially beneficial for athletes.
- Lie on your back with your hands by your sides, palms down.
- Bend your left knee and place your heel close to your buttock.
- Raise your right leg until it’s vertical, keeping your knee straight throughout the exercise.
- Point your toes as far as you can. Be aware of the stretching sensation in the front of your shin, over the ankle, and into the top of your foot.
- Now flex your foot by pressing your heel away and pulling your toes toward you. Notice the stretch in your calf muscles and hamstrings. Repeat these two movements 15 to 20 times. Lower your right foot to the floor and extend the left leg. Change legs and repeat.
Point and flex your feet evenly. In other words, when you point your toes, focus on pressing the big toe side of your foot forward. When you flex, focus on drawing the little toe side of your foot toward you. This flexing movement stretches the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.
To strengthen your thighs as well, bring your raised leg as close to your torso as you can and hold it there as you point and flex your foot. This will also gently strengthen your abdominal muscles.