How to make ankles more flexible?


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By Amy Eisinger

Why are my ankles not flexible?

Poor ankle mobility can be caused by a number of different factors, but most often it’s the result of a general lack of flexibility in the calf muscles, ankle joint issues (or stiffness) from a previous injury, or frequent wearing of high heels.

How to do this stretch:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs up and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Cross your left ankle over your right knee.
  3. Grab your right leg (either over or behind your knee) and pull it toward your face until you feel a stretch in your opposite hip.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

What causes stiff ankles?

The most common causes include injury, arthritis and normal wear and tear. Depending on the cause, you may feel pain or stiffness anywhere around the ankle. Your ankle may also swell, and you may not be able to put any weight on it. Usually, ankle pain gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain medications.

Ankle flexion (dorsiflexion)

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Secure the band around a chair leg or a table leg, and then wrap it around one foot.
  3. Slowly point your toes up toward you and then return to the starting position.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 flexes on each foot, three days a week.

Why is my ankle so inflexible?

Poor ankle mobility is caused by a general lack of flexibility in the muscles in the calf and back of the lower leg, ankle joint issues (or stiffness) from prior injury or surgery, or frequent use of high heels,” says Wickham.

How flexible should your ankles be?

Research shows that a normal range of motion for ankle dorsiflexion is somewhere between 10 and 20 degrees. Average plantar flexion is 40 to 55 degrees. If your client has trouble with these angles, ankle mobility may be restricted. Pain is another indicator that ankle mobility may be an issu.

Why are my ankles so inflexible?

Most commonly, ankle mobility is affected by tight tissues in the lower leg, whether it be the Achilles tendon or the calf muscles responsible for moving your ankle around. General tightness typically just suggests that your tissues are inflexible.

Care and Treatment

  1. Rest: If you’ve had an injury such as a sprain, you should stay off your feet for a while.
  2. Ice: To reduce swelling, apply ice or a cold compress to the area for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours.
  3. Compression: Ask your provider about wrapping an elastic bandage around your ankle to reduce inflammation.

What causes stiff tight ankles?

The root cause of stiffness is usually arthritis, tendonitis, an ankle sprain, or an injury. Overuse is another common factor that can lead to issues, especially after long periods of exercise or strenuous activity. Broken, twisted, or sprained ankles are also common injuries that induce ankle problems.

A 3-Step Approach to Improving Ankle Mobility

  1. Heel lifts. While standing, have the client lift their heels off the ground.
  2. Toe raises/heel drops.
  3. Toe/heel walks.
  4. Lunge.
  5. Overhead squat.
  6. Ankle flexion exercises.


  1. Rest. Keep weight off your ankle as much as possible.
  2. Ice. Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on your ankle for 15 to 20 minutes three times a day.
  3. Compression. Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  4. Elevation.
  5. Over-the-counter pain medications.

How do you release ankle muscles?

Ankle Rotations

Raise your foot about 20 inches off the floor. Then with your toe upward, rotate the foot to the left and then back to the right. Hold for 10 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat 20 times for each leg.

If you deal with ankle stiffness or pain, there are many stretches that can help.

  1. Ankle circles.
  2. Achilles stretch.
  3. Towel stretch.
  4. Band stretch.
  5. Standing calf stretch.
  6. Standing soleus stretch.

What does tightness around the ankles mean?

Tightness in the front of the lower leg and ankle can be down to a number of different factors including; impact sports, running, HIIT training, walking, suddenly increasing your distance or speed, tennis, basketball, gait and pregnancy to name a few.

Why do my ankles seize up?

Arthritis can develop in the ankles due to the large amount of weight and pressure the ankles absorb on a daily basis. Without cartilage to protect them, the ankle joints can easily become inflamed and stiff, particularly in the morning.

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