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Ankles Muscles - Critical Exercises For Our Legs and Ankles

Updated on February 3, 2015

Trips and falls are preventable with simple exercises.

The complexity of the ankle and the importance of the muscles in our ankle is something that we must become better aware of.

According to Dr. Joseph Signori, the co-author of the South Beach Diet we don’t exercise the dorsal muscles of the foot sufficiently in our exercise routine. The plantar and the dorsal muscles in the ankle are critical muscles that help us stand and also help us prevent trips and falls.

I always try to stress to my clients that we have 640 muscles in our body. When we are standing, we are using 300 muscles. When we are exercising actively, we are engaging more than 300 muscles!

The anatomy of the ankle is very complex. Please find below a colored sample diagram. In an effort to add clarity to this complex structure, I have had an artist add in the purple. As you can see clearly from my purple ankle diagram, the muscles the bone structure, the ligaments are complex.

We can help these muscles and individual cells with planned movement daily – just 2 minutes a day. We can also add to this daily routine and exercise the prescribed three times a week.

As you can clearly see there is a reason to take good care of these precious muscles. If we can prevent one trip, we can save ourselves not only pain and time off work or quality time with family and friends.

Ankle and Leg Muscles and Arteries

Click thumbnail to view full-size


Dorsal - Anatomy Of, toward, on, in, or near the back or upper surface of an organ, part, or organism.

Plantar - of or pertaining to the sole of the foot.

Dorsal Muscles - Dr. Joseph Signori of South Beach Diet

According to Joseph Signori, the co-author of the South Beach Diet we don’t exercise the dorsal muscles of the foot sufficiently in our exercise routine. The plantar and the dorsal muscles in the ankle are critical muscles that help us stand and also help us prevent trips and falls.

Hand and foot surgery is said to be as complicated as brain surgery and IF you look at the complexity of this critical joint, we can easily understand why.

Our ankles support us and help us every single day. This wonderful joint allows millions of combinations of movements and is the foundation for our continued mobility. Our core and our ankles contribute to our balance and prevent us from tripping and falling.

The ankle joint is what marries the foot and the leg - beautifully and seamlessly. The ankle is also known as the talocrural joint. The type of joint is "synovial" meaning that it is the most movable type of joint in a mammal. The synovial joint includes synovial fluid that surrounds the articulating surfaces.

Synovial is derived from the word synovium which means a a "layer of connective tissue which lines sheaths of tendons at freely moving articulations, ligaments surfaces of articular capsules, and bursae." source:

Pronation and Supination Demonstration

Pronation and Supination of the Foot Diagram with Neutral
Pronation and Supination of the Foot Diagram with Neutral | Source

Exercises to Help Prevent Trips and Falls Are Simple

Exercises to help prevent trips and falls are simple and many can be done just as you are sitting on the couch or in front of the computer.

Watch and see how simple these exercises can be!

How to Strengthen Your Ankles - Four Different Exercises

Four Exercises for Joint Integrity - Video Demonstration

Why ankle exercises are not done by hospital patients and prescribed by physicians worldwide leaves me to wonder if the disconnect between doctors and personal trainers is an ocean that we may not overcome in my lifetime.

When you look at how critical the ankle muscles are for basic stability not to mention for advanced exercise and sports movements, you have a better appreciation of the muscles of the human body.

Ankle exercises will build up your strength, your stability and your core.

If you haven't exercised allot before, try these exercises without any body weight, try them in bed, try them in your chair while you are reading this. Even the calf exercise can be completed while sitting in a chair.

Cara Regas walks us through four simple ankle exercises for strengthening our ankle muscles:

  1. Windshield Wipers
  2. Pronation - Supination
  3. Towel Curl
  4. Calf Raise

Single Leg Squat - Strengthens Ankles - 3 Variations

Ankle Exercise - Single Leg Squat

This is an advanced exercise and will challenge your ankle muscles and your core. There is no faking this exercise, you will fall over if this is performed incorrectly.

Just as the first video was simple and could be done without any weight, this exercise bears your full weight.

If you don't have skill, if you don't have muscle, and if you don't have coordination, this exercise will call you out.

  1. Start with little dips
  2. PVC pipes assist your single leg squat
  3. Suspension trainer - easiest variation

Single leg squats should be a staple in your exercise routine.

Ankle Mobility Can Assist in Better Squats

The Importance of the Ankle Mobility in the Squat

If you are rising your heel off the ground during a squat, your ankle muscles are weak and need strengthening and stretching.

Stretching is not the full answer - learn why in this great video by Joe Daniels.

Can you do a squat properly with your heel completely on the floor?

Joe demonstrates the adhesion of the muscle and changing the knotted muscle.

Then he shows how to find the spot of tension using a foam roller. He goes on for advanced stretching for your calf muscles. Watch carefully and you will learn allot - I did!

Rock Bottom Squat and Your Ankle Muscles

Can you do a rock bottom squat properly?

Now you know how important it is to have ankle flexibility for your squat and for your daily life.

Test Your Ankle Mobility / Strength Ability

Do you have ankle flexibility when you do your squats?

See results

Can you perform a rock bottom squat properly?

See results

True Story of Muscles Revealed

The human body is remarkable it will do most anything you ask - build muscle, add balance and stability, and lose weight.

Learning about our human body, the exercises that make us stronger and how to perform the exercises properly helps us with our health and everyday mobility. Exercise is easy but we must take the time to learn. Remember learning your abc's and now how the abc's are second nature, make exercise a daily routine and these exercise will become second nature.

My best friend has always had great calves - I always assume it was her years of ballet - not quite true!

She does calf exercises every time she brushes her teeth!

Let this be a lesson to all of us - we can create a better and healthier body!


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    • Easy Exercise profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelly A Burnett 

      5 years ago from United States

      Long Time Mother,

      Isn't is amazing how we forget about the ankles until they are no longer functioning? Oh, your poor husband. We hear about core stability so much but yet our ankles need to be strengthened also for stability.When I taught group fitness with seniors I always included ankle exercise and deep breathing - my clients thought I was crazy at first then they saw results and understood.

    • LongTimeMother profile image


      5 years ago from Australia

      Hi Easy Exercise. Thank you for this hub. Learning about ankles is my current obsession as I help my husband regain strength in his broken tibia and ankle. Just two weeks ago he had a plate and screws inserted. He is not supposed to put weight on his ankle for at least another four weeks, but I am looking for exercise hints already. :)

      This hub is very interesting and extremely helpful. Voted up!

    • profile image

      Kim Tate 

      8 years ago

      This entire piece is really helpful, from the anatomy of the ankle complex to the rehab side with PT exercises. Definitely creates a sense of awareness of my warm ups and cool downs to include working the muscles of this complex to prevent injury.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Honestly I didn't know what i was getting into when i saw the title...Ankles! But this is a well put together hub, Goldie..and there is nothing like the discomfort and pain of a bad ankle!!!


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