Neglecting your ankles can be relatively easy when you spend so much time concentrating on the more important leg muscles. Those tend to be your hamstrings and quadriceps yet the lower leg muscles help with your mobility.
To help you move side-to-side and pivot, you should be looking out for your ankles too. You only require some small movements to stretch them out so they can be easily incorporated into your yoga workout.
In this guide, we will look at various yoga exercises to help stretch your ankles. These include the foot stepover, a standing ankle exercise, a sitting down stretch, standing on your tiptoes, the squat, the thunderbolt, and the happy baby.
For those who enjoy hiking or just long walks, try the foot stepover to stretch out the bottom of your ankles and feet.
All you need is a rolled-up mat on the floor and then you simply stand straight and tall, step a front half of one foot on the roll, and keep your heel to the floor.
With a small step forward with your other foot, stretch that raised foot. Hold each rep for between two and five seconds and complete a set of 10 before switching sides.
Standing Ankle Exercise
One pose that may seem familiar is this standing ankle exercise as it is commonly used to stretch your calves.
That’s using a static pose, for your ankle you will need some dynamic movement to move the emphasis from your rear calf to the front ankle.
Begin by standing straight with your hands on your hips then take one step back, allow your front leg to bend, and then lean in.
Slide your knee over the toes and you should feel a stretch in your ankle so straighten then bend the knee and repeat for ten reps until you can switch sides.
Sitting Down Ankle Stretch
To open and strengthen your ankles, try sitting while kneeling on your heels then lean back on your hands as the first position which you can hold for around a minute.
Gradually, bring your hands to the floor alongside your legs and arch your back forward then hold your knees and pull them towards your chest.
To come out of the pose, lean forward and then return your hands to the floor alongside your knees. Take one step at a time and return to a push-up position.
This may seem like a simple stretch yet it can prove to be incredibly deep so be careful with it. If it does prove a bit too much, put a folded blanket under your ankles which should decrease the stretch’s intensity.
Another folded blanket or a cushion between your thighs and/or your calves will also go some way to decrease the pressure on your knees.
Standing On Your Tiptoes
You may not even need a mat for this really simple exercise which can be great preparation for vigorous exercise too. First, stand with your feet about a hip-width apart with the toes pointing ahead, and then rest the arms by the sides.
Fix on a point to assist your balance, inhale then rise onto the balls of your feet, sweep your arms out and up then exhale. Try a set of ten to fifteen reps and you should find that the pose improves your balance and stabilizes your ankles.
Even a rudimentary squat can really help stretch out your ankles. Have your feet slightly wider than just hip-width apart then turn out your toes by around 45 degrees.
Begin the pose by bending your knees and then squatting down as low as feels comfortable. Touch your palms and have your upper body positioned between your thighs.
Open up your hips by pressing your triceps by your knees which should lengthen your spine and hold for between five and ten breaths.
This sounds like a truly dynamic pose but you do need to be careful with your knees. Start by sitting back on top of your heels, close your knees then allow your hands to sit on your lap.
Your toes should be pointing back so your feet don’t roll while you stand up to hold the pose for around five to ten deep breaths through your nose. You can even try bringing your fingertips behind you to then lean back and lift your knees.
That’s right, the Happy Baby can help stretch out your ankles too so lie down on your back then hug your knees as they come into your check.
Maintain your feet together then bring out your knees while threading your hands to hold the outsides of your feet. Bring in your ankles over your knees, after flexing your feet pull down on the outsides to turn the soles to the sky.
You may not be able to reach your feet so you can hold your ankles or lower legs instead to circle your feet and remain for five to ten breaths.
Stiff ankles can truly become a problem for everyday movement. That includes squatting, walking, but also running, and jumping.
Should your ankles be inflexible then you may find other areas of your body are overworked to compensate for that lack of flexibility and mobility.
To stretch out your ankles, flex them by pulling one foot towards you and back down as such simple movements can really make a difference.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Reasons For Ankle Pain During Yoga?
If your ankles hurt during yoga, it is likely down to a previous ankle injury. This is largely due to those natural receptors present in your ankle ligaments will have trouble communicating with the brain about the position of the ankle.
Certain positions like balancing on one leg or even a sitting position may become painful.
How Does Practicing Yoga Help Your Ankles?
Those who suffer from stiff ankles can find that the problem persists throughout their daily activities and exercise. Whether that’s walking, running, or simply moving from side to side.
Thankfully, yoga can improve the stability and mobility of your ankles to keep them flexible and keep you moving freely.