5 Exercises To Improve Ankle Strength
Your ankles and feet are some of the most important tools you have when you’re a dancer. Whether you’re doing ballet, hip hop, or gymnastics, having good strength and mobility in your ankles is essential to good dance health.
It is also beneficial to do exercises to improve ankle strength so that you can avoid and prevent injury from happening, as ankle and foot injuries are one of the most common injuries for professional dancers. Your ankles and feet do a lot of work – so it’s important to keep them in the best shape possible!
Here are some of our favorite simple, but effective, ankle strength exercises:
1. Heel walks:
Just like it sounds, simply walk on your heels only. Keep all ten toes off the ground as you walk around for 30-60 seconds. Repeat this a few times. That’s it!
2. One-legged balancing:
Stand facing the barre, a wall, or chair – anything that you can grab for stability if needed.
- Lift your one foot off the ground without letting it touch your other leg
- Close your eyes and let go of anything you were holding for stability
- Balance for 30-60 seconds
- Repeat on the opposite leg
If you are advanced in ballet, you can do this with pointe shoes. This exercise helps you balance and stabilize, while building strength and flexibility in your ankle.
3. Controlled lunges:
Lunges are good for so many reasons, not just leg strength! For this exercise:
- Take a normal deep lunge position, with one leg bent in front with the other bent behind you
- Keep your back left toes on the floor, bent as deep as you can. Try to maintain stability on your front and back ankle as you do this
- Hold the lunge, count to five
- Slowly rise
- Switch legs
- Repeat 5x each leg
Slow and steady is key here. We aren’t going for speed! The slow movement is what is encouraging stability and strength with the wobbling as you lower.
4: Relevé (calf) raises with tennis ball:
For this one, you can use a tennis ball or any type of small ball.
- Stand with your feet side by side and a tennis ball between your ankles, just under the bone on the inside of your ankle
- Rise to relevé while squeezing the tennis ball in place and making sure your legs stay in place
- Lower and repeat about 20x
Go nice and slow here too! The key is keeping that tennis ball nice and locked in, while slowly rising and lowering. This will help strengthen your entire leg and feet as you go.
5: Barre sumo squat (slow motion):
For this one, you can stand against a wall, barre, or chair – anything for some light balance.
- Stand close to the barre or chair, with your toes pointed out
- Keep your back straight, and lift your ankles up (in the video, she has ankles down, but you’ll want to raise your ankles for this version)
- Slowly lower and lift
Control is important here, go slow and steady and engage your glutes and legs. You can repeat this 15x two times.
Consistency is key!
Just like everything when it comes to dance practise, doing exercises and stretches regularly is the best thing you can do to take care of your body.
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