How To Increase Ankle Mobility – 7 Amazing Exercises

The ankle is one of the joints that is often ignored until it gets injured. The fact is the ankle plays a very important role in improving runners performance, preventing injury and promoting flexibility. 

The force that results with step we take has to be absorbed by the ankle which means developing an ankle that has good mobility is valuable.

The problem is with a joint that is often ignored; it may be difficult to find the right exercises. This article will help you learn how to increase ankle mobility by doing seven easy exercise at home.

First, let us understand some important terms we will be using.


Dorsiflexion And Your Ankle



Dorsiflexion may sound like a difficult word, but it has a very easy meaning. It means your ability to flex your foot or hand backward. (1)

A simple way to test your dorsiflexion is to stand with your feet close to each other on the floor and then lift up the balls of your feet so that your heel is firm on the ground and the rest of your foot up.

Plantar Flexion

The opposite of this is called plantar flexion which is the opposite- the ability to move your foot downwards.

An example of the importance of this skill is that of a ballerina who can stand on her toes carrying the entire weight of her body.

  • These two actions are very important, especially for runners.

For instance, when sprinting, dorsiflexion allows you to have a more efficient sprinting stride putting you in the right position to spring forward. Such mobility reduces the risk of injuries. (2)

There are many ways you can increase ankle mobility. Here are seven of our favorite

Causes Of Poor Dorsiflexion


Poor dorsiflexion can trigger by different factors. These are the most common among runners:

  • Injuries especially in the lower body
  • Constant use of high heels 
  • Ankle joint restriction such as that caused by surgery
  • Problems with flexibility because of calf muscles

There may be other factors that trigger poor flexibility. Whatever the case, here are seven amazing ways you can build ankle mobility. The first and last exercises may also be used to test whether you too have this problem.

How To Increase Ankle Mobility - 7 Exercises

  • It is best to perform these exercise barefoot.

#1 Lying Against the Wall


What you will need:

  • A mat
  • ​A flat wall surface

What To Do:

  • Lie down on the mat with feet close together
  • ​Keep your arms to your sides facing up
  • ​Place your foot flat against the wall
  • ​While your heel is still against the wall, pull your toes backward as far as you can
  • If you are able to pull your foot up to 1 inch away from your wall, you have good dorsiflexion but if you can’t then this needs improvement.

#2 Stair Contraction 

What you will need:

  • Stairs

What To Do:

  • ​Place one foot flat on the first step
  • ​With the other foot, place only your balls on the edge of the step and the rest of your foot hanging
  • ​Then slowly push your weight down on your foot
  • ​Hold this for 2 minutes
  • ​Push your weight further down the foot for another 10 seconds
  • ​Shift your weight to the front of your foot for 10 seconds
  • ​Repeat 3-4 times
  • This exercise helps contract the muscles around the joint to protect it which makes ankle tissue more flexible.

#3 Seated Heel Drop

What you will need:

  • A chair to sit on

What To Do:

  • ​Sit straight on the chair with feet flat on the ground
  • ​Pull your heel down towards the ground and hold for 10 seconds
  • ​Move your foot backward by an inch and repeat
  • ​Continue to move your foot as far as you can
  • This is something you can do whenever you are seated. It helps to improve the strength on the back side of the ankle.

#4 Ballerina Wave

What you will need:

  • ​A mat to sit on

What To Do:

  • ​Sit on the floor with your legs extended
  • ​You may support yourself by placing your hands on the floor
  • ​Bend your toes and move your foot forward
  • ​When your foot is completely flexed, open your toes
  • ​Move your foot back to its original position reversing the motions
  • ​Repeat with both feet
  • This exercise helps you control your ankle movement better.

#5 Pistol Squat

What you will need:

  • ​An elevated surface like a bench, chair or table

What To Do:

  • ​Place one foot flat on the elevated surface with the other flat on the ground
  • ​Bend forward until it looks like you are hugging your leg
  • ​Continue to bend and hold for 10 seconds
  • ​Switch feet and repeat
  • This is a great exercise to improve the range of motion of your ankle.

#6. Tabia Stretch

What you will need:

  • ​An elevated surface
  • ​An elastic band to tie around your foot

What To Do:

  • ​Tie the elastic band around your ankle and attach it to a steady post
  • ​Kneel on one foot keeping the extended foot flat on the ground
  • ​Gently move forward and back supporting the ankle with your hand if you wish
  • ​Make sure your knee is extended outside your second toe
  • ​Do this for 30 seconds
  • ​Move to a standing position and transfer the foot to an elevated surface with the band still tied on to it
  • ​With your foot firmly grounded, move back and forth for 30 seconds
  • ​Switch feet and repeat the entire procedure

#7. Wall Push Stretch

What you will need:

  • ​A flat wall

What To Do:

  • ​Stand straight with your right foot perpendicular to the wall
  • ​Make sure your big toe is about an inch away from the wall
  • ​Move your right knee forward as if wanting to touch the wall
  • ​Keep the foot flat on the floor while doing this
  • ​If you are able to touch the wall with your knee, move another inch away
  • ​Continue to repeat this until you can’t touch the wall
  • ​Switch feet and repeat

This exercise is a great way to measure your current dorsiflexion and monitor progress.

If you are able to achieve 4 inches above distance from the wall, you pass the test. Otherwise, you need to increase your ankle mobility greatly.


Being able to increase ankle mobility will help you generate maximum force. This will result in better quality runs and higher endurance which will make sure you get the most of your running.

Sadly, many people are unaware that they have ankle mobility problems that need fixing, the tests mentioned in the article can help you identify if you have such a problem yourself.

You could also try to using some running shoes for ankle support to avoid injuries.

We hope you found some valuable information to help you become the best runner possible. We would love to hear what your thoughts are. 

Which exercises do you use in order to improve ankle mobility?

Let us know what you think in the comments below. If you know someone who will benefit from the information provided here, please share.