Walking is a great exercise to improve your physical and emotional wellbeing. And although walking is an entry-level form of exercise, it’s still important to perform walking exercises that flex your ankles.
Countless studies reveal the health benefits walking offers. What’s more, stepping out with friends stimulates mental health too – so why not make walking a social gathering you can enjoy with your closest friends or your family.
However, that’s not to say you should head into the hills unprepared. One of the most common injuries sustained by walkers is injuries to the ankles and lower legs.
Fitness experts recommend engaging in a variety of exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments in these areas. Below, we list some of the most beneficial walking exercises to flex your ankles.
Limitations in ankle dorsiflexion can cause functional impairment. One of the best, and easiest exercises to warm up this critical joint is to perform circles with your ankle.
There’s no need for me to explain how to do ankle rotations, you already know. All I will say is to circle each ankle for about 30 seconds, then change foot. Rest for about 10-15 seconds and repeat. Do this three times.
Standing Toe Raises
Toes are another key part of the feet for walking. By standing on your toes with your hands and arms outstretched, you build up strength and resistance in your toes and ankles.
Ideally, you should be able to stand in this position for at least 30-seconds. It’s a good test of balance too, which you will need if you’re hiking across uneven terrain. To maintain your balance, it helps to stare at a single point in front of you.
The purpose of reverse lunges is to learn how to centre your weight but also builds strength, balance and resilience in your ankle joints.
Start in an upright standing position, and slowly lift one knee in the air in front of you. Slowly move your raised leg back so that it falls outstretched behind you. Your front foot should be flat to the floor and your outstretched foot should be proposed up on your toes.
We recommend moving in slow, purposeful movements. This will help you maintain your balance but also places more weight on your ankles. Hold the position for 10 seconds, move back to a standing position then switch legs.
A slightly easier way of performing lunges is walking forwards and moving into a lunge with each step. This exercise is useful for balance and testing the stability of your ankle muscles.
Whilst you’re positioned in the lunge, lift yourself up onto your toes and move forwards and backwards slightly in a swaying motion. This helps to strengthen the toes and build stability in the ankles.
Achilles Tendon Stretch
When you’re performing walking exercises to flex your ankles, you can also work other parts of your lower legs into your practice. An Achilles tendon stretch focuses on the Achilles whilst simultaneously giving the ankle a workout as well.
Lean against the wall with your hands, stretch your arms fully shoulder-width apart and bow your head so that it falls towards your upper arms. Your legs should be slightly bent.
Extend one leg backwards and straighten it. You should feel a pull in your calf and Achilles tendon. If possible flex the ankle by raising your toes and replacing your heel on the floor. Work on each leg for 30 seconds then switch to the other side.
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