Keep your ankles happy and healthy with these yoga moves.
Many people underestimate the importance of strong ankles. Without strength in these key joints, it would be impossible to play any sports where you are often running and stopping quickly. Doing yoga is an excellent way to give your ankles the attention they deserve, building strength and helping to reverse past damage to keep you injury-free. In strengthening your ankles with yoga, you will also gain more stability and improve your balance.
It only takes a few minutes and a few yoga moves each day to keep your ankles happy and healthy. Try out the poses below!
By Jill Miller
Vrksasana Tree Pose Variation
Standing on one leg improves balance and ankle stability, which means it’s a good idea to practice single-leg standing poses often. This Vrksasana variation promotes agility in your lower legs, ankles, and feet, while transforming your lifted foot into a sensor of sorts (which provides feedback on the wobble situation in your standing ankle). This modification is particularly great for those who have trouble balancing on one foot.
Virasana Hero Pose Variation
When you improve the front-to-back range of motion in your ankles, their side-to-side abilities will also benefit. Wrapping a strap around your ankles in this pose encourages the optimal stretch across multiple ankle joints, while minimizing the “sickle effect” (when your toes turn in toward one another) that often happens when we sit on our feet in Virasana.
Namaste and Reverse Namaste for the feet
This exercise strengthens the side-to-side motion of your ankles by alternating between inversion and eversion without the added strain from your body weight that occurs when standing. These kinds of unloaded lateral ankle movements improve range of motion and deepen your understanding of how your ankles move—ultimately helping prevent injury should you turn your ankle.
This dynamic move strengthens the front and back of your lower legs—the prime “mover” of the ankle. This seemingly simple motion builds strength in the Achilles tendon, which is where the gastrocnemius and soleus (two calf muscles that help you elevate your heel) converge, and then transition behind the ankle joint into connective tissues on the bottom of your feet.
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All images courtesy of Jill Miller.