5 Exercises to Improve Ankle Stability

Updated: March 11, 2018

By: Adam Rizzio
Coach Rozy Performance Intern

Whether you are an athlete or someone trying to get in shape, a vital component when striving for peak levels of performance is to ensure the body can work as one unit. achieving a symmetrical and balanced body is always a primary goal. Some examples of imbalances may include: low back pain, uneven shoulders, one leg stronger than the other, or lack of ankle stability. If you possess any such imbalances and they remain uncorrected, problems will eventually arise.

When training, any imbalances can hinder your progress and prevent you from effectively executing the compound movements that you want to improve, if they remain uncorrected injury is likely to occur. Compound movements are defined as movements that use multiple muscles and joints in a single motion, they are without a doubt the most important component of any training session. Examples include a squat, deadlift, lunge, or bench press. Strong ankles are vital for most compound movements.

Ankles are one of the most used joints in our bodies, yet we spend so little time loading them with enough weight or forcing them to stabilize in various Athletic positions, so they become weak and unstable. With ankle sprains accounting for more than half of all sports injuries, it is vital to keep ankles strong and stable.

Listed below are 5 great exercises to begin strengthening your ankles, setting you on the path to accomplishing your performance goals, injury free:


Standing Superman


1. Begin the Standing Superman by lifting one foot so that you are balancing on the
opposite foot.
2. Extend the lifted leg behind you while reaching as far as you can in front of you
with both arms by your head, hold this position as needed to challenge yourself.
3. Return to Starting position without letting the lifted foot touch the ground.
4. Repeat the movement balancing on the opposite foot.

Coach’s Cues:

– Focus on stabilizing the ankle that you are balancing on, keeping it as still as possible by anchoring through the foot. Think of the foot as a tripod, maintain contact through the big toe, little toe and heel.
– Keep a straight back, do not overextend the lumbar spine.
– Avoid overextending the neck, think chin to chest.
– Bend the knee slightly on the leg you are balancing on, avoid locking out the knee.

➢ The Standing Superman can be made easier by standing near something to grab when needed for balance and can be made more challenging by standing on an unstable surface, such as a bosu ball or yoga mat.

Single Leg Toe Tap


1. Begin the Single Leg Toe Tap by lifting one foot so that you are balancing on the opposite foot.
2. Using the opposite arm, reach down tap the foot you are balancing on. Return to starting position.
3. Repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg.

Coach’s Cues:

– Stabilize the ankle as much as possible, try and minimize the number of times your other foot hits the ground.

➢ The Single Leg Toe Tap can be made more challenging by standing on an unstable surface, such as a bosu ball or yoga mat. The athlete may also choose to hold a dumbbell or kettle bell on the same side they are balancing on.

Single Leg 6 Cone Tap


1. Set up 6 cones in a circle around the athlete.
2. Begin the Single Leg 6 Cone Tap by lifting one foot so that you are balancing on the opposite foot.
3. While balancing on one foot, reach out with your other foot and tap the 3 cones on that side. Switch feet and repeat the motion on the opposite side with the adjacent cones.

Coach’s Cues:

– The knee of the leg you are balancing on should be slightly bent.
– Focus on stabilizing the ankle, move slowly if needed.

➢ The single leg 6 cone tap can be made more challenging by standing on an unstable surface such as a yoga mat and holding a dumbbell, kettle bell, or medicine ball by your chest. You can also start with larger cones and progress to small cones or even dots or marks on the floor.

Farmer Carry


1. The Farmer Carry requires some space to walk back and forth. Start the exercise by grabbing a dumbbell or kettle bell in each hand, standing in an upright position.
2. Start walking in a straight line until you need to turn around
3. Repeat the laps as needed.

Coach’s Cues:

– While walking, be sure to keep your shoulders back and chest out.
– Stabilize ankles and hips, controlling the weight don’t let it control you.
– If your using dumbbells as opposed to kettle bells, be sure to keep them parallel to the ground, not letting them dip forward.

➢ The Farmer Carry can be made more challenging by using heavier weight or walking a longer distance. You can also add intensity by altering how you carry the weight; one arm over head – one arm to the side as an example.

Bulgarian Split Squat


1. To begin the Bulgarian Split Squat, grab two dumbbells or kettle bells.
2. Stand in a lunge position, but with your back foot up on a stable surface for assistance.
3. Perform a lunge movement on the front leg, when done with the set switch legs and repeat.

Coach’s Cues:

– Supporting Foot should be facing straight ahead.
– Keep and neutral spine throughout the entire exercise.
– Keep that chest nice and tall.
– Do not let the knee ever go in front of your foot when performing the movement. Make sure to begin with the foot far enough out from the stable surface.

➢ This exercise can be made easier “Harder” by using heavier dumbbells/ kettle bells, or by standing on a less stable surface with your front foot such as a yoga mat.

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