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Strong feet and flexible ankles are extremely important for runners.

The ankle and the foot together form a complex mechanism which consists of 26 bones and 33 joints, providing mobility that helps absorb loads and increasing strength that allows for a more explosive push off.

In this article, I will show you 10 ankle mobility exercises for runners which I do myself, and answer some of the most common questions.

ankle mobility exercises for runners

What is ankle mobility?

Ankle mobility is the ability to achieve a maximal range of motion (ROM) of the entire muscle group around the ankle joint. The more flexible the muscles and tendons, the more mobile the ankle is. The ability to have a wide range of motion will reduce the risk of injury.

If you wish to improve your performance and running technique and also reduce the risk of injury, see the next 10 ankle mobility exercises for runners and learn how to include them into your training plan.

Ankle mobility exercises for runners

The exercises that I am about to show you are done with controlled movements, within your comfort zone. It is important that you are relaxed and focused on performing the exercises properly.

If you feel pain, reduce the amplitude of your movements. If you still feel pain, seek the help of a physiotherapist.

1. Toe walk

Toe walk

How to properly do the exercise – toe walk?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Stand on the balls of your feet.
  3. Leaning on the balls of your feet, walk 10 meters forward, maintaining balance with your hands.

2. Heel Walk

Heel walk is an ankle mobility exercise that develops strength, stability, and functional movement in the area around the ankles, while simultaneously activating the tibialis anterior and feet muscles.

Heel Walk

How to properly do the exercise –heel walk?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Raise your toes off the ground, leaning on your heels.
  3. Leaning on your heels, walk 10 meters forward, maintaining balance with your hands.

3. Inversion Walk

Inversion walk is an ankle mobility exercise that develops stability and functional movement in the area around the ankles, while simultaneously stretching ligaments and tendons on the outer side of the joint.

Inversion Walk

How to properly do the exercise – inversion walk?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Twist your feet inwards by shifting your body weight to the outside of your feet.
  3. Leaning on the outside of your feet, walk 10 meters forward, maintaining balance with your hands.

4. Eversion Walk

Eversion walk is an ankle mobility exercise that develops stability and functional movement in the area around the ankles, while simultaneously stretching your ligaments and tendons on the inner side of the joint.

Eversion Walk

How to properly do the exercise – eversion walk?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Twist your feet outwards by shifting your body weight to the inside of your feet.
  3. Leaning on the inside of your feet, walk 10 meters forward, maintaining balance with your hands.

5. Heel-Toe Walk

Heel-toe walk is an ankle mobility exercise that develops strength, stability, and functional movement in the area around the ankles, while simultaneously activating the tibialis anterior and the muscles in your calves and feet.

Heel-Toe Walk

How to properly do the exercise – heel-toe walk?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Step with your left foot ahead, landing on your heel.
  3. Transfer your body weight from the heel onto the ball of your foot.
  4. Walk 20 meters forward, switching sides, and maintaining balance with your hands.

6. Ankle Circles

Ankle circles is an ankle mobility exercise that relaxes the ligaments and tendons around the ankle.

Ankle Circles

How to properly do the exercise – ankle circles?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Do circular motions in the ankle of your left foot, leaning on your right foot.
  3. Do 10 circular motions in both directions.

Repeat the exercise with the other foot.

7. Ankling

Ankling is an ankle mobility exercise that activates the foot, develops strength and mobility of the ankle, and improves coordination.

How to do Ankling Running Drill? | OLYRUN

How to properly do the exercise – Ankling?

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
  2. Step forward with your right foot and land on the ball of your foot while standing on your left leg.
  3. Shift your weight from your left to your right leg by transferring the weight from the ball of your foot to the heel so that each part of the foot comes in contact with the ground.
  4. Continue alternating sides and moving forward.

Make your steps quick and small. Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do during a run.

Read more: Ankling: How To Do Ankling Drill? [Video]

8. Dynamic calf stretch

Dynamic calf stretch is an exercise that helps improve ankle mobility by stretching the hamstrings and calves while strengthening calves, core, arm, shoulder, and feet muscles.

Dynamic calf stretch

How to properly do dynamic calf stretch?

  1. Start with both of your palms and feet on the ground.
  2. Raise your left heel and put your right leg on the back of your left leg.
  3. Slowly lower your left heel towards the ground until you feel the slight tightening in your left calf muscles.

Repeat the motion 5 times and then repeat the exercise with the opposite side.

Advice for properly doing dynamic calf stretch

  • Maintain your posture – keep your body straight and do not bend your back.

9. Sitting on outstretched feet in a kneeling position

Sitting on outstretched feet in a kneeling position is an ankle mobility exercise that relaxes the ligaments and tendons around the ankle and the tibialis anterior and quadriceps.

Sitting on outstretched feet in a kneeling position

How to properly do the exercise – sitting on outstretched feet in a kneeling position?

  1. Begin by kneeling and sitting on your heels and outstretched feet.
  2. Slowly lean backward until you feel light tension of your tibialis anterior and quadriceps
  3. When you feel a slight tension of the muscles in your legs, stop leaning and hold the position for 10 seconds.

10. Sitting on the balls of your feet in a kneeling position

Sitting on the balls of your feet in a kneeling position is an ankle mobility exercise that relaxes the ligaments and tendons around the ankle and the muscles of your entire foot, calves and quadriceps.

Sitting on the balls of your feet in a kneeling position

How to properly do the exercise – sitting on outstretched feet in a kneeling position?

  1. Begin by kneeling and sitting on your heels and touching the ground with the balls of your feet.
  2. Slowly lean backward until you feel light tension of the muscles in your feet, calves, and quadriceps.
  3. When you feel light tension of the muscles in your legs, stop leaning and hold the position for 10 seconds.
ankle mobility exercises for runners

When should runners do ankle mobility exercises?

Include the ankle mobility exercises into your warm-up routine before training or races. Do them after an easy jog, as a part of your mobility exercises and dynamic stretches, before the main part of your workout. This will prepare your ankles for the following effort and reduce the risk of injury.

Read more: Warm-up Before Running [Ultimate Guide]

You can also do ankle mobility exercises after the main part of your training, as part of your cooldown. This will relax your ligaments and tendons around the ankle and reduce stiffness and tension.

Why should runners do ankle mobility exercises?

Ankle mobility exercises have numerous benefits:

1. They maintain adequate mobility of the ankle so that the body can properly perform movements. Ankle and the foot absorb a large amount of force when running, while also developing power that enables a more explosive repulsion from the ground.
2. They improve proprioception (movement awareness), the way a joint behaves during imbalance. For example, if you come across an uneven surface, your body will recognize this and prevent any ankle sprains. The research has shown that proprioceptive training has a positive effect on ankle sprain prevention.
3. They strengthen the legs. Ankle mobility exercises also strengthen large leg muscles, thus developing proper running stride. The research has shown a reduced number of injuries in runners who developed their ankle strength.

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Matea Matošević
Matea Matošević
Article by:
Matea Matošević

Hi, I’m Matea! I’m Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…