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May 2018 Treating persistent ankle pain

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ankle exercises

“Weak ankles, stiff ankles, sprained ankles, it’s my bad ankle” are descriptions I hear a lot because the ankle is such a frequently injured body part.

Just because it’s a frequently injured body part doesn’t make it a lesser injury or indeed something that necessarily recovers quickly.

It can need a bit of help and here is a bit of help to get you started.


How do you stand, how do you move?

Firstly, when you’ve had a problem for a while, your body will adapt. This can result in awkward movements elsewhere in your body. Muscles can tighten and weaken. These secondary adaptions can significantly delay recovery which is really annoying. So to avoid further annoyance look out for the following:

When you stand still and look down at your feet, are your feet a) equally weighted left to right (be really picky) and b) positioned symmetrically with your other foot or slightly off set?

Now go up onto your toes and again check points a) and b) as above. Are you forcing your weight onto the outer border of your foot or are you able to keep your balance with your weight over your middle toe?

As you walk or climb stairs again notice whether you are symmetrical, left to right, with not only your weight distribution but also your foot position.

If you are placing more weight on one foot and favouring one leg more than the other, or positioning your foot differently and it is not due to pain, then you may be doing this to accommodate the ankle problem. It may feel normal only it’s not normal, it’s just familiar and without addressing these changes, the problem isn’t being addressed and the issue persists. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got…

How well do you wobble?

Next you need to check your balance and dexterity. Accepting your balance is poor is not OK, don’t accept it or think it is just one of those things. Balance like anything else can be improved with practice. In doing so the jarring effect placed through your joints from poor balance will be dramatically improved. Even if practicing doesn’t seem to improve your balance, if your balance remains the same over time, then in real terms it has improved because as we get older, without working on it, our balance will inevitably deteriorate. The importance of this is too frequently underestimated.

How bendy are you?

Test the flexibility of your calf muscles as well as your ankle and toe muscles. All of them impact on your ankle to a greater or lesser degree.

ankle exercises

To stretch the top of your foot and front of your ankles, kneel with your toes flat to the floor

Gently lean back on your heels 

Don’t push into pain

Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.


To stretch the sole of your foot and front of you ankles, kneel with your toes bent underneath your foot 

Gently lean back on your heels 

Don’t push into pain 

Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.



Stretch out your deep soleus calf muscles

Keep your heels down while moving your knees over your toes


Don’t push into pain

Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.



To stretch your more superficial gastrocnemius calf muscle, keep your back heel down and back knee straight while leaning forwards onto your hands

Don’t push into pain

Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.



Just how strong are you?

Walk on your toes for five minutes to improve your foot and toe strength as well as your calf strength. Easy? Do it for longer? Too hard? Gradually increase the time you are on your toes (even if you can only manage a few seconds initially, don’t give up). Keep your heels raised at a comfortable height.

Can you jog or jump on the spot? Hop equally left to right? Provided there is no pain, only weakness or lack of coordination, then use this as a strengthening exercise to improve your muscle power to protect your ankles.

Don’t give up and don’t settle for a weak, stiff, unreliable ankle. Understand that your ankle needs your foot joints and your toe and calf muscles strong, flexible and dynamic. Test out your strength flexibility and dynamism (if you can say dynamism you can own the dynamism your ankle needs…) It’s all about reinforcing the scaffold around your ankle so the scaffold can reinforce around your ankle. Simple as that!

Any questions? Get in touch! Always happy to help.


| 2 comments | in ankle pain, balance, Healthy toes and feet, Returning to exercise after injury, Strains and sprains, toes

2 Responses to May 2018 Treating persistent ankle pain

  1. Rosemary Price says:

    Perfect timing for me thank you, as I have been doing loads of standing just lately and before the end of the day my feet and ankles and whole lower legs have been killing me….. Annoying as I have lost 2 stone… trying for the next one!!

    Hope all good with you,we are great and loving life in Somerset.
    Keep up your lovely blogs.

    All the best

    Rosemary x

    • Rachel Kili says:

      Hello Rosemary, wow what an achievement! Keep up the great work and I hope these exercises make for a smoother ride.
      Rachel x

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