Ankle Strength and Flexibility

If you’ve ever had calf pains of shin splints, then you know just how important taking care of your lower legs is. Our feet, much like tires on a car, are what come in contact with the road or running surface, and we need to protect them and make them as strong and durable as possible to withstand all of the running we’d like to do.

Taking care of your lower legs: ankle strength & flexibility
Taking care of your lower legs: ankle strength & flexibility

We spend so much time – miles and miles, hours and hours – pounding the pavement that we need to spend time taking care of our lower legs.

In this blog post, you’ll learn some key exercises and drills to perform so that you can have strong, flexible and durable ankles, shins, and calves. At the end, you’ll find more resources for you to have and use at your disposal.

You might find that doing these drills prior to each run is beneficial as it will elongate and stretch your calves, keeping them nice and loose prior to running.

7 exercises for stronger and more flexible ankles
Get stronger & more flexible ankles

TrainwithMarc created a video that shows what to do before a run – with ankle drills to get you warmed up; and strengthening drills to get your calf (the two major muscles that make up your calf: soleus and gastrocnemus) nice and strong!  Have a look at it, pause it, practice the drills, and become a stronger runner.

Here are the exercises in the video above in case you didn’t want to watch it in its entirety. Again, these drills are dynamic (with movement) so they are good for before you run.

Heel Walks

Distance:  20 meters.
How to:  Flex shin muscle, stay on heels
Goal:  Prevents shin splints; strengthens ankle tendons and ligaments

Toe (balls of your feet) walks

Distance:  20 meters
How to:  Stay on balls of your feet, flex calves
Goal:  Prevent shin splints; mimics running form

Ankle out

Distance:  20 meters
How to:  Mimic a controlled motion of rolling out over your ankle
Goal: Prevents sprains and strengthens ligaments and tendons

7 tips to keep runner's ankles strong
Tips to Keep Your Ankles Strong

Ankle in

Distance:  20 meters
How to:  Mimic a controlled motion of rolling your ankle inward
Goal: Strengthen ligaments and tendons

Jump Rope

Rep:  30 seconds
How to:  Double Leg; Single Leg
Goal: Work on firing from your calves.  Work on being on the ground for as little time as possible.

Heel Raises

Rep:  5-10 (toes point in, straight ahead & pointed out)
How to:  Hang heels off a ledge, explode up, come down slowly.
Goal: Strengthens calf and soleus muscles.


Theraband Exercises

Reps of 10 (Inside, outside, towards & away; both feet)
How to:  Get a band and wrap around the ball of your foot.  With foot flexed, rotate foot to the point of tension.
Goal:  Strengthen muscles in ankle and foot.



Our lower legs are so important to the health of our running.  To keep our lower legs healthy, the 7 exercises listed above are a crucial addition to any runner’s routine.  Not only do we want to have flexible (no more sprained ankles), but we also want stronger lower legs.  These exercises will help with both.
Strength training for runners
Strength training routines for distance runners

Marc is a middle school Special Education teacher and the distance track and cross country coach who also works with distance runners seeking personal bests. He blogs at and writes a Friday newsletter. You can find everything Marc is working on here.

Searching for a running coach? TrainwithMarc has flexible schedules, dynamic plans, and access to a coach who’s worked with every type of runner.

TrainwithMarc will design a training plan based on your needs, running history, and your goals.

Gear I Love

Garmin is my go-to brand of running watches

My Favorite RUNNING gear from Amazon ⬇️
Feetures socks:
Tifosi Sunglasses:
Garmin 235:
Garmin heart rate monitor:

Coach Marc does strides after easy runs to prime his legs

Current Running Shoes ⬇️
Brooks Levitate:
Brooks Revel:
Nike Pegasus:

Marc uses a massage gun to loosen up his legs

Running Recovery Gear I use daily from Amazon ⬇️
Sonic X Percussion Massage Gun:
Foam Roller:
CEP Compression socks:

Marc running a popup 5k in Haddonfield

TrainwithMarc’s Social Media links ⬇️
Instagram: @TrainwithMarc_LLC
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