Ankle Stabilization

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Ankle Stabilization

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Today we are going to be talking about ways to increase stabilization to your ankle joint and fun ways to do this. These exercises are going to be great for those people with a history of ankle sprains, those with balance issues, and for increasing strength and balance specifically at the ankle joint. One purpose of these exercises is to strengthen the tendons and ligaments around the ankle joint. Additionally, they can improve body balance and body-in-space awareness.


We all know that standing on one leg is a great way to improve your balance, and can be a telling way of assessing side-to-side symmetry; hip, ankle and foot strength; and utilization of balance strategies. While this is a great exercise to begin improving balance and strength at the ankle joint, we want to add some fun and challenging variations for at home or the gym.


A great way to increase full lower extremity balance and strength is to utilize unstable surfaces during your workout, like an airex pad, Bosu ball, Dyna discs, or even a plain pillow. There are functional health benefits of utilizing unstable surfaces (e.g. improved joint stability and reduced lower-extremity injury rates). In addition, improved strength, balance and functional performance have been reported following performing balance exercises on unstable surfaces in primarily young healthy adults.


So let’s take a look at our three favorite and fun ankle stabilization exercises:


  1. Hip series on Airex balance pad:  Patient is standing with right leg on airex balance pad and left leg by the side unsupported (no pad underneath the foot). The patient is going to lift the left leg slightly forward, keeping your knee straight until your foot is about 3 to 4 inches off the floor. Hold, then slightly lower. Then do the same thing bringing your foot out to the side (90 degree angle). Repeat lifting the leg backwards, then return back to center. Perform 10 repetitions in each direction before switching sides
  2. Captain Morgans on Rotational Disc:  Patient is standing with the right leg on the FitterFirst Rotational Disc and left leg by the side unsupported. The patient is going to lift their left LE into 90/90 hip and knee flexion. Then bring your hip into external rotation by rotating your leg out to the side, while still maintaining the 90/90 position and keeping the front of your hips facing forward (try not to let the rotational disc move/rotate!). Reverse the motion back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
  3. Isometric standing hip abduction on Bosu Ball with ball toss: Patient will start by standing on right leg on the flat side of a Bosu ball with a Theraband around the thighs (just above the knee). The patient’s leg is abducted at about 30 -45 degrees of hip abduction (to kick in the hip muscles). The patient will hold this position while throwing a ball against a rebounder 10-15 times (balancing on the one leg for 30-60 seconds). Perform the same on the opposite side.


For any questions on ankle exercises or ankle pain/dysfunction, contact us at one of our seven clinic locations!

Katie Peaslee, PT, DPT, OCS