Your ankles and feet are often the most neglected part of the body when it comes to exercising. When they are tight, they can have a big impact on your range of movement. Limited ankle mobility can cause you to plateau on exercises such as squats or chair pose in yoga. As you get older it shows up when you struggle to walk down steps without support.

The exercises listed are for you, if you are fit, healthy and the other side of fifty. You know your body needs a wee bit of tlc everyday and you are making it a priority to find time to do them.

Here are 3 simple ways to improve your ankle mobility and flexibility:

Ankle circles are the simplest movement before exercise for mobility. It’s  good practice to do every day or at least before you exercise or go for a long walk.

Ankles circles can be done seated or lying on your back (supine)

Slowly circle your ankle 10 times in each direction and then swap sides

They can be done when you are watching TV, sitting at your desk or a few minutes before putting your shoes on.

Stretches

Muscles work in pairs so if you are focusing on a particular area it’s good practice to stretch the opposite muscles as well

 Calf stretches can be done before and after your daily walk as well as incorporating into your exercise routine.

If you are outside, drop your heel off the pavement to get some length into the muscle. If you are inside use a wall to support you

Hold for 20-30 secs gently lengthen through the back heel, increase for 2 mins if it feels OK

If you do yoga, the Downward Dog is a great way to stretch your calves in a different alignment to standing. Walk the dog  version is where you alternate knee bends and lengthen the opposite heel is a gentle way to stretch your calfs (if you shoulder are happy with it!)

 

Shin Stretch Stretching the muscles at the front of your shin bone by kneeling and gently settling your weight back onto your heels to add more load. Hold for 20-30 secs and slowly increase for 2 mins if it feels OK This is a good one to practice often if you struggle with cramp in your feet when you exercise lying on your tum (prone)

Shin Stretch Stretching the muscles at the front of your shin bone by kneeling and gently settling your weight back onto your heels to add more load.

 Hold for 20-30 secs and slowly increase for 2 mins if it feels OK

 This is a good one to practice often if you struggle with cramp in your feet when you exercise lying on your tum (prone)

Bonus Stretch There are two big muscles in your calf, which means two different stretches! This one has a bent knee for the back leg. I would have the feet closer than the image – more tight rope though Hold for 20-30 secs, slowly increasing for 2 mins if it feels OK

Tennis ball rolling is great to release the fascia in your feet.

If you have attended any of my Pilates classes they always include this at the start. (if you currently have plantar fasciitis check will your health care provider first)
Start seated with the tennis ball under 1 foot, roll forward and back the length of your foot and then side to side, as if you were painting the sole of your foot with the tennis ball

Start for 30 secs each side and build up to 2 mins.

You can also do this in standing. It increases the load and ouch factor, so reduce the time from sitting to start with and build up again.

Click here is a great video from the Foot Collective

 

Top Takeaways
  • These are great stretches for every day that help with exercise that you do with intensity and load but also for everyday activities such as walking down steps
  • Ankle circles are non-negotiable mobility exercises as you get older
Stretch Images credit: Physigraphe.com