Stable from the Ground Up: How to Improve Ankle Stability for Weightlifting

Despite being one of the most vulnerable areas of your body, the ankles are often overlooked when it comes to training and conditioning. This is not to say that you should spend several hours training your ankles every week. Rather, it’s best to factor some ankle training into your exercise regime.

Your ankles, like most of the joints in your body, can easily be injured while lifting weights if proper form and preparation aren’t observed. Due to their vulnerability, weightlifters must protect their ankles with strengthening exercises and good weightlifting form.

Need some help in improving your ankle stability? Read on for great advice for weightlifters — and anyone who wants to work on their foundation.

Weightlifting Ankle Stability

What are the benefits of ankle stability training?

As most serious weightlifters will know, while specific exercises target specific muscle groups, lifting weights engages your whole body. While exercising, your muscles and joints act in unison to keep your body stable.

Therefore, working on your ankle stability will improve your overall balance and control while lifting weights. The stronger the small muscles in your feet, legs, and ankles are, the more stable you will feel while lifting.

Training your ankle stability will also largely decrease the likelihood of putting excess strain on them and protect the delicate joints and ligaments in case you stumble.

If you have ever taken a long walk or jog on soft sand, you would have quickly become aware of how many muscular micro-systems in your legs and feet work to keep you stable. These systems always work, whether standing, walking, running, or lifting. Supporting them with stability exercises can vastly improve your lifting experience.

Avoiding injury with proper form and warmups

Observing the correct form and getting your muscles warmed up before a workout is a vital part of weightlifting. To someone new to weightlifting, it might not seem necessary to include your ankles in this equation. However, as we’ve established, they play an important role in your overall stability and can easily become injured if not looked after.

Everything in your body is connected. Therefore, keeping proper form in one area of the body will take the strain off other areas of the body. For example, keeping your back straight, core engaged, knees bent, and shoulders back will make lifting weights easier on the vulnerable parts of your body, such as your hips, knees, and ankles.

What are some ankle warm-up exercises?

Doing ankle warm-ups before a weightlifting session keeps them stable and flexible and prevents injury. Performing these warm-up exercises regularly will keep your ankles strong.

Towel calf stretch

Sit on a mat with your legs extended in front of you. Try to keep a gentle bend in the knee. Hold one end of a towel in each of your hands. Loop the middle of the towel around the bottom of your feet like a cradle.

Then, using the towel, pull your feet towards you slowly. You should feel a stretch in your Achilles tendon. Be careful not to overextend. Hold the position for about 10 seconds and repeat the stretch five times.

Illustration of plantar flexion and dorsiflexion

Plantar and dorsiflexion

Sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you, flex your foot upwards towards you. Imagine you’re trying to pull your toes up towards your knee. Keep your foot flexed this way for three to five seconds.

Then, do the opposite maneuver, pointing your toes away from you as far as possible. Hold for three to five seconds. Repeat this sequence ten times.

Eversion and inversion

Sitting with your legs extended in front of you, try to bring your toes together by moving the ends of your feet inward. Hold this position for three to five seconds.

Then, do the opposite by extending your feet outwards to the sides. Hold there for three to five seconds. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Ankle rotations

Stand on one leg with your arm on a wall or solid bar for support. Lift your leg out before you, and complete 10 clockwise and 10 anticlockwise rotations with your ankle. Repeat this sequence with the other leg as well.

What are some ankle strengthening exercises?

These exercises work on building the small muscles in and around your ankle for improved ankle strength and stability during weightlifting. It’s recommended that you do these at least three times a week.

Weightlifting Ankle Stability

Ankle alphabet

First, sit on a chair with your back straight and knees bent. Lift one leg off the ground slightly. Then, using your foot as an imaginary pen, try to draw the letters of the alphabet in the air. Move your way from A to Z. Always do equal amounts with both feet to avoid lateral imbalance instability.

Balancing on one leg

Simply standing on one leg can greatly improve your ankle strength and stability. You can do this while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or watching TV. As your strength increases, you can stand on a foam mat to make it harder. Do this for 30 seconds to a minute, spending equal amounts of time on each foot.

Four square grid

Remember playing hopscotch? This is a similar idea — only with added benefits. Take some masking tape or string and set out a grid of four squares of equal size. Then, on one foot, hop from one square to another.

You can hop in clockwise and anticlockwise motions from front to back, back to front, and side to side. Perform 20 hops for each motion and each foot.

Heel and toe walk

Using the longest uninterrupted space in your home or gym, walk only on your heels for five steps forward. Then, continue for the next five steps on only your toes. Switch between your heels and toes until you get to a wall. Carry on doing this for two minutes, turning around when you must.

Strong ankles support a strong body

These warmups and exercises will help you build the ankle strength and stability you need for weightlifting. After a few weeks of doing these exercises, you should notice a significant difference, not only during your lifting routine but while walking in your daily life, too.

Keeping your ankles strong and stable not only improves your form and performance but also pays off in your golden years when your joints and tendons are more susceptible to damage. Look after your ankles, and they’ll look after you.

Why choose University Foot & Ankle Institute for foot and ankle care?

If you’re struggling with any foot or ankle issues, our expert team is here for you. Our podiatrists offer the most advanced podiatry care and the highest success rates in the nation. We are nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists and leaders in researching, diagnosing, and treating all foot and ankle conditions and common injuries.

For a free consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or make an appointment online now.

University Foot and Ankle Institute is conveniently located throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area. Our foot doctors are available at locations in or near Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Westlake Village, Granada Hills, Valencia, and Santa Barbara.

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