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.

 


Summary:

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

Need a running coach for your next race?

TrainwithMarc will create the training plan so you can focus on your running goals!

Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!


Marc is a middle school teacher and coach but also works with distance runners online. I help distance runners around the globe by providing support, writing customized training plans and designing workouts to help them reach their racing goals. I write for my blog every Wednesday morning and newsletter every Friday morning.


Gear I Love

These are affiliate links, which means if you buy something with that link, I make a small commission.

Garmin is my go-to brand of running watches

My Favorite RUNNING gear from Amazon ⬇️
Feetures socks: https://amzn.to/36gNRjU
Tifosi Sunglasses: https://amzn.to/349OuJx
Garmin 235: https://amzn.to/2YgXJ9M
Garmin heart rate monitor: https://amzn.to/2JUun8a

Coach Marc does strides after easy runs to prime his legs

Current Running Shoes ⬇️
Brooks Levitate: https://amzn.to/2GazmUh
Brooks Revel: https://amzn.to/3ndnwcO
Nike Pegasus: https://amzn.to/36htGlX

Marc uses a massage gun to loosen up his legs

Running Recovery Gear I use daily from Amazon ⬇️
Sonic X Percussion Massage Gun: https://amzn.to/2S87qTt
Foam Roller: https://amzn.to/2MzrAly
CEP Compression socks: https://amzn.to/30gZLGY

Marc running a popup 5k in Haddonfield

TrainwithMarc’s Social Media links ⬇️
Website: trainwithmarc.com
Instagram: @TrainwithMarc_LLC
Twitter: @marcpelerin
Facebook: @TrainWithMarc
TikTok: @Run_Coach_Marc
Venmo: @marcpelerin

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