Dryland – Ankle-Flexibility Exercises

Tired of getting out-kicked at every practice? Here’s a simple, 5-minute exercise routine that will help improve your ankle flexibility. At the same time, these exercises will strengthen the muscles in your feet and lower legs. They can also help prevent those annoying foot cramps during practice.

Why Do It:
Ankle flexibility is one of the key ingredients for a productive kick. If your feet are ‘hooked’ when you swim, they act like a huge parachute at the end of your body, and will drag you down. If you’re a triathlete who runs and bikes a lot, you are probably very familiar with this problem. These simple exercises will help. Our demonstrator has moderately flexible ankles for swimming. Elite swimmers, especially freestylers, can usually get their toes to touch the mat on the first exercises that you see.

Ankle exercises are pretty basic. Start by sitting on any flat surface, and stretch your legs out in front of you.

Point your toes down as far as they’ll go, and hold for a second or two. Try to get your toes to touch the floor.

Now flex your ankles, and try to point the toes BACK toward your body. Repeat at least 10 times. Take it slow, and really feel the stretch in your ankles.

Now make circles with your feet. Make 10 circles in one direction…

…Then 10 circles in the other direction.

Make the circles as big as possible, really stretching the ankles.

The third exercise is great for breaststroke. Point your toes toward the floor, and try to get the soles of your feet to come together. Oh yeah. Hold for a second, then flex the ankles and try to point the soles of your feet to the outside walls. Hold for a second, then repeat the whole exercise at least 10 times.

The final exercise is more for FOOT STRENGTH than ankle flexibility. If you get a lot of cramps in your feet while swimming, this is something you should try.

Start with the feet pointing straight up. Now simply curl your toes, as if you were ‘making a fist’ with your feet. Hold for a second or two, then release.

With your feet pointing straight up, now try to SEPARATE your toes. Get them as far apart as possible. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat at least 10 times.

How To Do Them Really Well:
The key to improving ankle flexibility is working on it every day. These exercises take just 5 minutes. Don’t rush through them, and you’ll start to see results.