3 Simple Ankle Exercises to Improve Your Balance
You are walking in the yard to play with your children or grandchildren and, then, all of a sudden, you step into a hole and lose your balance. In this situation, your body naturally reacts to what is happening to it.
This is called the righting reflex. It corrects the orientation of the body when it is taken out of its normal upright position. If it does not properly react, then it can result in a broken bone, muscle strain, and/or falling to the ground, where multiple injuries can occur. In this scenario, your ankle is the first joint to react to the change in position.
Here are some simple ankle exercises that can help to prevent you from falling and keep your righting reflex acting properly!
- Towel scrunches – Take a small towel or wash cloth and place it on the floor. Using just your toes, try to scrunch the towel up. You can do this for about 3-4 minutes, 3 times per day. Try this! Stand up with your toes on the ground and try to balance yourself. Now, try it with your toes off the ground. Believe it or not, the toes play a major factor in our balance. The intrinsic muscles of the foot help to stabilize the ankle and sporadically contract to ensure you do not lose your balance.
- Ankle ROM with theraband – This exercise is a little more complicated than the others to explain. Our ankle performs four major movements — up, down, in, and out. Each is important for ankle stability. This exercise strengthens each of the muscle groups that perform these actions. Here is a picture to help:
- Single Leg Stance – It is exactly what it sounds like. Practice standing one leg at a safe place, such as the kitchen sink or counter. Count for about 10 seconds and perform up to 5 reps on each leg. You can increase the difficulty by adding a pillow to stand on. If this is too difficulty, try standing on a pillow with both feet first and then progress to one leg. Remember, DO NOT use your hands unless you need to! If you already have balance deficits, please do this exercise with caution.