Lower Leg & Ankle Exercises

Lower leg and ankle exercises

Proprioception is our sense and awareness of the position of our body parts and is closely linked to balance. Having good proprioception helps to reduce the risk of injury. Located within the muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues of the body, are tiny sensors which relay information about joint position, pressure and muscle stretch to the brain.

The main aim of using a balance board is to improve proprioception. This is our sense and awareness of the position of our body parts.

The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before beginning rehabilitation.

The medicine ball catch exercise is designed to challenge the single leg balance with an unknown. This develops proprioception after lower limb injuries.

The stork balance is a simple single leg balance exercise, although various progressions can be added to make it more difficult. It improves balance and proprioception.

The heel toe balance exercise, sometimes called a tandem stance is designed to start to work on proprioception and balance. This is a good build-up to wobble board work.

Step back exercises can be used as late stage ankle exercises to increase push-off strength, but will also work the hip and bum muscles.

The resistance band jump exercise is a great late stage proprioception test! Hops and jumps can be used in the early stages but using the band adds an extra challenge!

Hopping exercises are important in late stage rehabilitation in lots of sports. They help to improve balance, proprioception and explosive strength.

Heel toe walking is a great exercise for the ankle and calf muscles. It will strengthen all muscles of the lower leg, as well as help improve proprioception or balance.

Box jumps are a form of advanced exercises called plyometrics. They strengthen the entire leg ready for powerful, explosive movements and also aid proprioception development.

Resisted eccentric inversion is a great exercise for using after ankle sprains to help reduce the chance of future injuries. This helps by eccentrically strengthening the peroneal muscles so they can control excess inversion.

Inversion (also known as pronation) is the movement of turning the foot so that the sole faces inwards. A resistance band is great for this exercise and other ankle exercises.

The eccentric heel drop places the emphasis of the movement on the downward phase so that the calf muscles must contract as they lengthen to control dorsiflexion. This exercise is the gold standard for treating Achilles tendinopathy.

The calf raise is a widely used exercise to strengthen the calf muscles. There are many variations and resistance machines are also available.

The seated calf raise exercise is used to strengthen the calf muscles, especially Soleus. It is an early stage exercise which can be progressed to standing once this is pain free.

The posterior tibialis exercise targets this muscle specifically by combining the two movements which it performs. This muscle may need strengthening to help reduce overpronation.

Toe raise or foot raise exercises work the shin muscles at the front of the lower leg. This is an early stage exercise which can be progressed using a resistance band.

Isometric inversion and eversion. This exercise is used to begin to strengthen the ankle invertors (tibialis posterior) and evertors (peroneals) in the early stages of treatment.

Dorsiflexion is the movement of pulling the foot upwards. Using a resistance band to perform this movement will strengthen the shin muscles.

Active mobility exercises where the athlete physically moves the joint through a range of motion are often done early on.

Plantar flexion is the ankle movement of moving the foot down, pointing the toes away from the body. Using a resistance band is an early stage exercise for calf strengthening.

Ankle eversion is also sometimes known as supination and is the movement of turning the foot so the sole faces outwards (away from the other foot). A resistance band is very useful for ankle exercises.

Ankle eversion is the movement of turning the sole of the foot outwards and is controlled by the peroneal muscles on the outer calf.