Looking for stronger ankles? I know when I first started practicing balancing poses I found them very challenging. Not only do they require core stability you also need to have solid ankles to distribute the weight evenly through the foot.

In fact, it wasn’t until my physical therapist noticed my ankle instability that it ever came to light. I thought everyone’s ankles were the same as mine wiggling about like jelly on a plate.

When I was a child, I fell down a good flight and a half of stairs on my ankle. For years afterwards I would be walking along and suddenly, my ankle would roll underneath me, and I would fall to the ground. Now that I am older, I know that is chronic ankle stability. Now I can balance my dancers pose with ease.

You may be wondering how your ankle strength measures up? Well not to worry we have you covered. This article includes a simple clinical test you can do at home.

So, if your looking for a solid foundation for your balances or perhaps you are slowly building your ankle strength the 5 ankle TheraBand exercises in this article has you covered.

As always check with a physician before starting a new exercise regime.  If you are recovering from an ankle injury make sure that your health care provider clears you first before performing the following ankle rehabilitation exercises.

We will take a look at what can go wrong with ankle injuries and then move into ankle theraband exercises.

Ankle Injuries & Sprains:

The anatomy of an ankle sprain is the stretching or tearing of tissue and or ligaments around the ankle joint. Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries (Gribble, et al, 2016 ) and are extremely high in dancers and gymnasts ouch!

Ankle Injuries & Sprain Symptoms: Sometimes, the athlete can feel or hear a popping or tearing when the injury occurs. Ankle sprains are graded I, II, or III based on severity of the injury.

Pain, swelling, and muscle weakness, although some patients may exhibit sensorimotor deficits (Doherty et al. 2016). 40% of individuals who experienced a first-time ankle sprain later developed chronic ankle instability (CAI) (Shojiro et al; 2021.)

“CAI characterized by repetitive episodes of the ankle giving-way due to sensorimotor deficits (Gribble et al, 2014) & (Hertel, 2019). As dancers, performers or athletes retraining the ankle correctly is imperative to sustaining a long career and reducing future ankle sprain injuries.

Injury Prevention Measures

Balance and function training are one of the best ways to prevent ankle injuries. The following exercises can be performed either on the floor, on a balance board, pillow or yoga block depending on your level of strength and control.

  1. Single-leg stance
  2. Single-leg stance while swinging raised leg
  3. Single-leg squat to 30-45 degrees
  4. Single-leg stance with functional activity

Testing Ankle Stability & Postural Control

The Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT)I s a clinical assessment of dynamic postural control with  the maximum reach distance (MRD) as an indicator of injury risk. (Shojiro et al; 2021.)

When performing your test you want to make sure that you are not only assessing the ankle you must also look at the hips, lower leg, ankle and feet.

  • Limited Range of Motion
  • Muscular Strength
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Impaired Proprioception
  • Neuromuscular Control

How To Perform the SEBT.

You will need: foam pad, pillow, or wobble ball depending on your level of strength and control through the entire postural chain.

  1. Choose your wobble device. For those who are recovering from ankle injuries or simply have weak ankles you will start the SEBT on the floor with no balancing devices.
  2. Starting on the dominant limb (defined as the limb used to kick a ball), align the second toe of the stance limb with the center of the grid.
  3. Maintain a stable single-limb posture on the standing leg.
  4. The opposite leg (the leg that is off the floor) is going to reach into the following directions mapped below.

The Following Rules Apply:

  1. Maintain hands on hips
  2. Maintain the heel of the test/stance limb on the floor at all times
  3. Complete contralateral limb maximum reach in three seconds
  4. Avoid touching the ground with the reaching limb even at the maximum reach point. 

Ankle Theraband Exercises Routine

4-Way Ankle Theraband Exercise.

  1. Simply tie a knot with your theraband around the foot so that it is tight enough to inhibit slipping off the foot.
  2. With the tails/ends of the band tied to the bottom of a bed, or chair leg simply pointe and flex the foot. Repeat 10 times.
  3. Untie the band from bed/chair leg and place the band in your hand. Ensure you have enough resistance in order to work the ankle. Repeat pointing and flexing the foot. Repeat 10 times.
  4. Bring your hand holding the band to the side of your body with tension. Pigeon toe the foot back and forth to neutral. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Bring your hand holding the band towards the inner leg. Direct the toes away laterally away from the body and return to neutral. Repeat 10 time.
  6. Do three sets of all exercises.

Ankle Theraband Alphabet

The ankle alphabet is a simple self explanatory exercise that can be repeated with or without a theraband.

  1. Seated in a comfortable position tie your theraband around the middle of the working foot.
  2. Use the slack and place it under the non working legs foot. This will act as your resistance.
  3. Draw the letters of the alphabet with the ankle.
  4. This can be escpeically fun if you have a toddler to teach them the alphabet while getting strong ankles as the same time! BONUS!

Flexed Foot Theraband March

  1. Standing with a small looped theraband around the arches of the foot. (You can make a small knot in your large band)
  2. Bend the knee drawing it up to a right angle in line with the hip.
  3. Keep the foot flexed the entire time.
  4. The higher the knee = The higher the resistance
  5. Repeat 10 times with three sets.

Circle of Life Theraband Exercises

  1. Seated on the floor with your legs out in front of you place the theraband around the arches of the feet and make a small knot so that the band becomes a small loop.
  2. Make sure there is an inch of slack on the looped band.
  3. Slightly separate the legs and begin drawing a circle with the feet simultaneously.
  4. Repeat 15 times with 3 sets
  5. Handy tip, if you find points that begin to make the ankle shake go slower, they are your weaker areas.

Theraband Relives

  1. Using a theraband tie a small circle around a table leg of a barre for the dancers out there
  2. It needs to be long enough to insert the foot and have some room for slack.
  3. Standing to the side of the table/laterally move the working leg/ankle from a flat foot on the floor by lifting the heel and coming onto the ball of the foot
  4. Make sure that the band is giving you enough resistance to challenge the ankle laterally
  5. Repeat 15 times.
  6. Turn the body so that you are facing away from the table so that the band is drawing the anterior section of the ankle joint towards the table.
  7. Rise/Relive onto the balls of the feet 15 times.
  8. Repeat on both feet with 3 sets of 15.

Wanting more? Try my follow along routine to work the ankles and the feet.

Recent Articles

References:

Zchaxewski, M. Manske, Q. 2022. Pathology and intervention in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Second Edition, Elsevier. Disrupted somatosensory input alters postural control strategies during the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) in healthy people

Nozu, Shojiro ; Johnson, Kristin A. ; Takemura, Masahiro ; Shields, Richard K. Gait & posture, 2021, Vol.90, p.141-147

P.A. Gribble, C.M. Bleakley, B.M. Caulfiel, C.L. Docherty, F. Fourchet, D.T. Fong, et al. Evidence review for the 2016 International Ankle Consortium consensus statement on the prevalence, impact and long-term consequences of lateral ankle sprains Br. J. Sports. Med., 50 (24) (2016), pp. 1496-1505

C. Doherty, C. Bleakley, J. Hertel, B. Caulfield, J. Ryan, E. Delahunt Recovery From a First-Time Lateral Ankle Sprain and the Predictors of Chronic Ankle Instability: A Prospective Cohort Analysis Am. J. Sport. Med., 44 (4) (2016), pp. 995-1003

P.A. Gribble, E. Delahunt, C. Bleakley, B. Caulfield, C. Docherty, F. Fourchet, et al. Selection criteria for patients with chronic ankle instability in controlled research : a position statement of the International Ankle Consortium Br. J. Sports. Med., 48 (2014), pp. 1014-1018

J. Hertel, R.O. Corbett An Updated Model of Chronic Ankle Instability J. Athl. Train., 54 (6) (2019), pp. 572-588

J. Duysens, W. Hoogkamer, O. Levin Is there ‘arthrogenic inhibition’ of cutaneous reflexes in subjects with functional ankle instability? Clin. Neurophysiol., 124 (2013), pp. 1264-1266

M.C. Hoch, P.O. Mckeon, R.D. Andreatta Plantar Vibrotactile Detection Deficits in Adults with Chronic Ankle Instability Med. Sci. Sport. Exerc., 44 (4) (2012), pp. 666-672

C.J. Burcal, E.A. Wikstrom Plantar Cutaneous Sensitivity With and Without Cognitive Loading in People With Chronic Ankle Instability, Copers, and Uninjured Controls J. Orthop. Sports. Phys. Ther., 46 (4) (2016), pp. 270-276

J. Munn, S.J. Sullivan, A.G. Schneiders Evidence of sensorimotor deficits in functional ankle instability: A systematic review with meta-analysis J. Sci. Med. Sport., 13 (2010), pp. 2-12

J.M.M. Mckeon, P.O. Mckeon Evaluation of Joint Position Recognition Measurement Variables Associated With Chronic Ankle Instability: A Meta-Analysis J. Athl. Train., 47 (4) (2012), pp. 444-456

M.C. Hoch, P.O. McKeon Peroneal Reaction Time after Ankle Sprain A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Med. Sci. Sport. Exerc., 46 (3) (2014), pp. 546-556

K. Kim, J. Kim, D. Cruz-Díaz, S. Ryu, M. Kang, W. Taube Changes in Spinal and Corticospinal Excitability in Patients with Chronic Ankle Instability: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis J. Clin. Med., 8 (2019), p. 1037

K. Song, C.J. Burcal, J. Hertel, E.A. Wikstrom Increased Visual Use in Chronic Ankle Instability: A Meta-analysis

Med. Sci. Sport. Exerc., 48 (10) (2016), pp. 2046-2056

G. Moisan, M. Descarreaux, V. Cantin Effects of chronic ankle instability on kinetics, kinematics and muscle activity during walking and running: A systematic review Gait. Posture., 52 (2017), pp. 381-399

J.D. Simpson, E.M. Stewart, D.M. Macias, H. Chander, A.C. Knight Individuals with chronic ankle instability exhibit dynamic postural stability deficits and altered unilateral landing biomechanics: A systematic review Phys. Ther. Sport., 37 (2019), pp. 210-219

P.A. Gribble, J. Hertel, P. Plisky Using the Star Excursion Balance Test to Assess Dynamic Postural-Control Deficits and Outcomes in Lower Extremity Injury: A Literature and Systematic Review J. Athl. Train., 47 (3) (2012), pp. 339-357

J. Hertel, R.A. Braham, S.A. Hale, L.C. Olmsted-kramer Simplifying the Star Excursion Balance Test: Analyses of Subjects With and Without Chronic Ankle Instability J. Orthop. Sport. Phys. Ther., 36 (3) (2006), pp. 131-137

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Flexibility, Contortion & Yoga Instructor.

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