If you’ve ever had multiple, or recurrent, ankle sprains, you’ve likely wondered “how can I make my ankles stronger and keep this from happening again?”
Here are 3 ankle exercises for strong, sprain-resistant ankles.
Single leg balance on foam
Sometimes, balancing on foam can feel a bit mundane and baseless, especially for a performing person. But this little guy packs a serious punch when it comes to making ankles strong and resistant to ankle sprains, especially when you add in additional challenges: like throwing a ball or closing your eyes.
This little proprioceptive gem is a great addition for any individual looking to build strong ankles.
You might be wondering, “what is a proprioceptive exercise?” Put simply, proprioceptive exercises are training exercises that force your body to respond to unexpected or dynamic stimuli by manipulating sensory contexts and inputs (like being on foam, or closing your eyes, or tossing a ball to throw you off balance).
Science-y definition: “Proprioception is defined as the neural process by which the body takes in sensory input from the surrounding environment and integrates that information to produce a motor response.” 
Balancing on a piece of foam, alters the input from the floor to be squishy and soft, forcing your body and ankle muscles to work just a bit harder to stay upright. If you add in a ball toss, or close your eyes, now you’ve manipulated a visual input as well. All really excellent ways to train your ankles to be stronger to unexpected stimuli.
In fact, in this review study  , they concluded that there was enough evidence to show that proprioceptive training offered a reduction in ankle sprain risk to both those who have injured their ankle before and those who haven’t.
Single leg heel raise
Did you know that one of the highest demand muscles for running is actually a fierce calf muscle called your soleus?  This muscle accounts for a good majority of forces we use during running and running-like activities. It also, just so happens, to be attached to your ankle.
While we cannot speak to the preventative qualities of this exercise, we CAN speak to this exercise having significant value and offering some strong ankle vibes all around.
Calf muscle girth has been linked to things like falling and fracture in older age, both determinants of early mortality risk It’s been theorized that calf strength could help reduce that risk by offering a degree of improved stability and neuromuscular control. 
Single leg ankle jumps or hurdle jumps
Plyometric exercises are explosive, rebounding-type exercises that offer additional ankle building properties, specifically to our tendons and ligaments.
These exercises are great for building properties around the ankle joint that offer us better awareness and control of where our ankle is in space with higher demand movements. Ultimately, this can improve our ability to respond to unexpected movements of our foot and ankle in a faster, more dynamic way.
And bonus, these types of exercises have shown to be valuable at reducing ankle sprain injury risk . Pretty neat.
So there you have it, our top 3 exercises for building strong ankles. If you’re unsure if this is appropriate for you, it’s never a bad idea to reach out and inquire. If you’re looking for physical therapy,
If you’ve sustained a sprained ankle or are looking to rehabilitate from an injury and get back to the activities you love, we offer virtual and in-person physical therapy services and you can schedule via our online scheduling software.
- Rivera MJ, Winkelmann ZK, Powden CJ, Games KE. Proprioceptive Training for the Prevention of Ankle Sprains: An Evidence-Based Review. J Athl Train. 2017;52: 1065–1067.
- Dorn TW, Schache AG, Pandy MG. Muscular strategy shift in human running: dependence of running speed on hip and ankle muscle performance. J Exp Biol. 2012;215: 1944–1956.
- Stewart AD, Stewart A, Reid DM. Correcting calf girth discriminates the incidence of falling but not bone mass by broadband ultrasound attenuation in elderly female subjects. Bone. 2002. pp. 195–198. doi:10.1016/s8756-3282(02)00811-6
- Caldemeyer LE, Brown SM, Mulcahey MK. Neuromuscular training for the prevention of ankle sprains in female athletes: a systematic review. Phys Sportsmed. 2020;48: 363–369.