While there are a variety of ways to treat ankle arthritis, ranging from conservative methods such as over-the-counter medications, rest, and hot and cold therapy to more invasive solutions such as steroid and hyaluronic injections or surgery, consistent exercise is often an effective self-therapy for mild to moderate pain and discomfort.
Daily exercise can not only improve strength and motion in your ankles, but can also reduce pain while enhancing your overall functional mobility.
8 Great Ankle Exercises You Can Perform At Home
The key to initiating and maintaining an effective exercise program for ankle arthritis is to start slowly and gradually build your strength and mobility. It’s best to begin in a non-weight-bearing position, such as while sitting or lying down, and then progress to weight-bearing exercises as your strength improves.
At first, perform five to eight repetitions of each exercise per day. Then, over the course of a few weeks, perform an extra set of each exercise until you build up to two sets of 10 repetitions. Within a month of daily exercise, you should be able to perform two sets of 15 repetitions of the following exercises:
- Ankle Pumps – These are designed to help improve your ankle joint’s range of motion. Seat yourself in a chair and lift your foot slightly off the ground. Then, point your toes away from your ankle and hold for up to 10 seconds. Then, pull your toes toward your ankle and hold for another 10 seconds. As you point your toes away, you’ll feel a slight pull in the front of your ankle. As you pull your toes up, you’ll feel a tightness in your calf.
- Ankle Rotation – While seated in a chair, rest your ankle on your opposite knee. Hold your ankle just above the joint with one hand and hold the ball of your foot with your other hand. Next, gently rotate your ankle clockwise for a few second, then reverse the rotation for a few seconds. If you feel pain in one direction, warm it up with the less painful direction before rotating in the painful direction again. You’ll feel a slight pulling or a grinding sensation around the ankle joint during the rotations, but it shouldn’t be painful. If it is painful, stop performing the exercise.
- Ankle Alphabet – Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Then lift your foot slightly and trace the letters of the alphabet – A to Z – using your toes, motions that will cause your ankle to move. You can even challenge and strengthen your ankle further by doing Z to A , changing up the letters, or drawing them in cursive.
- Resisted Ankle Dorsiflexion – This exercise involves the use of a resistance band that is anchored with a loop to a strong, sturdy object or a closed door. While sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and one knee straight, wrap the other loop of the band around the top of your foot and slowly flex your ankle, bringing your toes up toward your ankle while you keep your knee and leg straight. Hold the position for several seconds before you slowly return your ankle to the starting position. This exercise will help strengthen the tibialis anterior muscle in your lower leg. Just make sure you move with slow and steady motions when pulling up and lowering your ankle down.
- Resisted Ankle Eversion – Start by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and holding the loose ends of a resistance band in your hand. Use a rolled-up towel to support your lower leg with your heel off the floor. Hold both ends of a resistance band, loop it around the outside of your affected foot, and press your other foot against the band. While keeping your leg straight, slowly push your affected foot outward against the band and away from your other foot without letting your leg rotate. Then, slowly relax.
- Resisted Ankle Inversion – While sitting on the floor with your good leg crossed over your other leg, hold both ends of a resistance band, loop it around the inside of your affected foot, and press your other foot against the band. Keeping your legs crossed, slowly push your affected foot against the band, so that the affected foot moves away from your other foot. Then, slowly relax.
- Calf Raises – For this easy exercise, hold the back of a chair and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Rise up onto your toes and lift your heels. Hold this position for five seconds before lowering down slowly and returning your feet to the floor.
- Toe Raises – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold on to the back of a chair for balance. Lift your toes, but keep your heels on the floor. Hold this position for five seconds before returning your toes to the ground.
Before starting any of these exercises, check with your doctor. If any exercise causes moderate to severe pain or discomfort, stop the exercise, as it may be a sign that more professional treatment is necessary.
Arthritis Treatment Near Me in Plantation, Florida
Dr. Robert Baylis and Dr. Christopher Brown have more than 30 years of experience diagnosing and treating patients with a variety of conditions and disorders affecting bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments, including arthritis. We can provide effective treatment for your musculoskeletal issue, whether it’s a recently sustained injury or a complex, chronic condition.
For more information about the conditions and injuries we treat, or to set up a consultation to meet with one of our caring doctors, call our office at (954) 476-8800 or request an appointment with our convenient online form.