All about that base: These ankle exercises will keep you active.


Spring has sprung, but don't let that lead to a sprain! It's the perfect time of year to take your fitness routine outdoors — or kick-start a whole new one. Walking, jogging, or biking amid pink and yellow blossoms, new green shoots, and birds chirping can put a smile on your face in a way that a fluorescent-lit gym never will. You can help to ensure a long, active season (and beyond) by strengthening an important but oft-neglected area of your body: your ankles. These key joints are part of your body's base, and when they're weak, stepping off a curb, walking in heels, or rolling an ankle while doing something active can easily lead to a painful sprain. Over time, weak ankles can lead to knee and hip problems, too, and make walking more difficult. First step: Make sure "the shoe fits" — all of them! Wearing high heels or ill-fitting shoes sets you up for ankle problems. For fitness shoes, get your feet assessed and fitted at a running-shoe store. Foot pain or balance problems can be signs of weak ankles, but be sure to get persistent symptoms checked out by a physician to rule out other conditions. To strengthen your ankles, set aside 5 minutes a day for the following exercises:


Begin by lying on your back or standing (use a sturdy chair for support when standing). Lift one leg and draw the alphabet with your toes as you flex your foot. Then repeat with the other leg.

Standing calf raises:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. If you are able, stand on the edge of a step (use a banister or other support to help keep your balance). Lift yourself up as high as you can onto your toes and then lower your heels down. Repeat 10 times.

Flex and stretch:

Lie on your back with your legs out and heels on the floor (feet in a vertical position, so your toes point toward the ceiling). Gradually point your toes away from you as far as possible and hold for three seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.


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