There is one type of exercise that makes you engage from the crown of your head to your littlest toe, and that is yoga. Providing a whole-body experience, yoga is a useful way to work on areas of the body that don’t otherwise get a lot of attention such as your ankles. This fragile area isn't often the centre of attention unless you get injured. Fear not as there are many ways to improve ankle strength and avoid trauma, including the below three yoga poses.
Yoga is especially well suited to gauge ankle strength. When you’re wobbling in a balancing pose, it's your body telling you that the small stabilising muscles around your foot aren't strong enough to hold you still. Standing poses build ankle strength when you activate your feet by using the floor for resistance.
Here to help you get stronger ankles is CeCe Carson (opens in new tab), Liforme (opens in new tab) ambassador and yoga instructor, who was kind enough to share what she thinks are the three best yoga poses to improve ankle strength. While you're building your foot-friendly flow, you might also want to check out our pick of the best yoga poses for runners.
For CeCe's workout, you won't need any equipment apart from a mat and perhaps a pair of the best yoga pants, for maximum flexibility. Liforme is the brand that's currently sitting at the top of our best yoga mat guide, and if you're thinking of picking one up right now you should definitely have a look at Liforme's Year of the Tiger Yoga Mat (opens in new tab). By getting one you're not only get a beautiful mat, but 5% of the sales of the Year of the Tiger Yoga Mat go towards the World Wildlife Fund’s efforts to conserve wild habitats and protect endangered species.
Need more convincing before you buy one? Check out T3's Liforme Yoga Mat review; this premium mat was given five stars for a reason!
Best yoga exercises to improve ankle strength
1. Downward Facing Dog Split
Downward Facing Dog stretches your ankles because your feet are in a position of strong flexion. Adding a balancing element by lifting one leg makes your standing ankle work a little harder. It doesn’t matter how high you lift your raised leg but keep both hips facing the floor. While your leg is in the air, activate your toes and slowly rotate your ankle several times clockwise and counterclockwise.
2. Tree Pose
Tree Pose does double duty, working both ankles in slightly different ways. The ankle on your standing leg may shake, which is how your muscles make slight adjustments to maintain balance. If you fall out of the pose, it’s no big deal. Just come back into it to keep building your strength. The foot on your lifted leg also has a part to play. Keep pressing that foot into your standing leg and the leg back into the foot to create resistance.
3. Warrior II
Standing poses are built from the ground up. In Warrior II, that means aligning the arch of your back foot with the heel of your front foot. Once your feet are set up and your front knee is bent over your front ankle, make sure to keep both feet active. Press into the floor with all four corners of each foot so that you are neither under nor overpronating. Draw the arches of your feet upwards, especially if you have flat feet.