Physical therapy ankle exercises are great for strengthening your ankles, feet, and calves. This can help with mobility and joint health. You want to take care of your ankles because they help support your whole entire body. Ankles can help with mobility, speed, and even strength. 

When you take care of your ankles, they are going to take care of you. In addition, doing physical therapy ankle exercises help your ankle stay stable and allows you to do the things that you love doing. However, there are a variety of exercises that you can try to help your ankles get and stay strong and pain-free. Let’s start with some different exercises we tell our patients to use.

1. Resistance Push – Physical Therapy Ankle Exercises

Requires: Wall or Solid Object to Push Against

Difficulty: Easy

This is a great exercise to build up lateral muscles that support your ankles. It is an exercise that is usually performed sitting down.

Firstly, sit down on the floor and get close to a wall or a solid object you can push your leg against. 

Bring your leg, specifically the ankle and foot, and press it up against the wall or object. This should be done sideways, you shouldn’t be pressing your foot up onto the object, it should be the side of your leg. 

2. Half Balance Ball for Physical Therapy

Requires: Half Balance Ball

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

If you are feeling pain-free and swelling has disappeared, you are probably safe to do this exercise. You will need a half balance ball. These balance balls are great because you can use them right side up or upside down. 

Get your ball and step on it. Try to balance yourself. Do you feel your ankles working out? You can start out with both feet on the ball. You can work your way up to balancing on one leg. 

If you really want a challenge, you can get a tennis ball and try throwing it against a wall and try to catch it while balancing on the ball. Do this 20 to 30 times and try to keep your balance the whole time.

3. Calf raises

Requires: Something to hold onto

Difficulty: Easy

Starting off you may need to hold onto something so you do not lose your balance. If you can move your legs up and down without needing to hold unto something, do it.

Calf raises are fairly simple. Firstly, you stand on your feet and go up on your toes. Hold it until you feel your calves engage, then come back down.

You can do these with both legs or single legs. They can be done with weight or without weights. Change it up and see what is best for you.

4. Elastic Band Exercise

Requires: Elastic Band

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Elastic bands are a great way to add extra force and pressure to your typical exercise.

For example, get your elastic band and put it around the bottom part of your feet. Grab the other side of the band with your hands. Flex your toes forward and hold. Most important, slowly bring your toes back up and repeat.

5. Towel Curl 

Requires: Towel

Difficulty: Easy

This is a perfect exercise if your ankle or foot is swollen or in pain. However, the goal of this exercise is to gain stability and motion in your foot area. 

Firstly, grab a towel and lay it on the floor. Secondly, put your foot on the towel. Try to curl your toes under your feet to grab the towel. Go back to your foot is flat. Repeat until fatigued.

This should be performed one foot at a time. 

6. Sitting on the Floor

Requires: A place to sit or lay down

Difficulty: Easy

There are many exercises that allow you to sit on the floor and even lay on the floor. These are great exercises to do if you are in pain or have swollen ankles or joints.

For instance, our favorite physical therapy ankle exercises include this one: lay down on your back. Secondly, put your knees up at a 90-degree angle. Get your feet and move them both in circles 30 times. As a result, you should feel your ankle loosen up. Switch directions and do circles 30 times the other way. 

To clarify, this is a great exercise for joint and ankle health.

7. Physical Therapy Ankle Exercises – Knee Motion

Requires: Chair

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

For instance, if your foot is injured, you understand how important it is to keep pressure off your foot and to strengthen the surrounding area. 

Sit in the chair with both feet lightly touching the ground. Move one knee out to the side and move your foot with it. As a result, this should create some tension on the side of your leg and down to your foot. 

8. Physical Therapy Exercise Bands 

Requires: Exercise Band

Difficulty: Medium to Hard

Firstly, grab an exercise band and sit down. Secondly, put the band around both of your feet. Meanwhile, take one foot and move it to the side. Keep your other foot in place. Move it back. Repeat.

9. Big Toe Strengthening Ankle Exercises

Requires: No Special Equipment

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

If you have foot pain, engaging your big toe can help restore balance and relieve pain. Firstly, flex all your toes back. Hold and bring them back down. Repeat.

10. Physical Therapy Single-Leg Exercises

Requires: Chair for stability

Difficulty: Easy to Difficult

Single leg exercises are found in a variety of sports. This is because running and walking happen one leg at a time. When you strengthen each leg individually, it allows you to get more power and force out of each leg, resulting in increased performance.

However, there are many different single-leg exercises you can do, ranging from beginners to highly advanced. 

For beginners, you can make it as simple as standing on both feet and shifting your weight to one foot. Eventually, you can gradually work up to lifting one leg off of the ground.

If you need something a little more difficult, you can use resistance bands to add tension to each side. You can also go in front of a mirror and make sure when you lift your leg off the ground that your hips don’t move up or down. In short, single-leg squats are a great way to build up to full leg strength and ankle mobility. 

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