The ankle joint is made of different bones; ligaments, tendons, and muscles – held firmly together providing it strength and stability. It is a very important part of the human body as it bears all the weight of our body while we stand, walk or run. When we hit the ground running, ankles bear a lot of force in a short span of time – less than few seconds and then help shift the body weight and position the body for the next movement.
The positioning of Ankle in the human body and nature of work makes it prone to injuries, twists, sprains or fractures. To reduce the chances of injury we need to make sure the ankles are strong and flexible. Hence, in this post, we shall see the ankle flexibility exercises. Among the various benefits of Yoga poses, one is providing strength and flexibility of Ankle.
A flexible ankle will have a greater range of motion and thus be able to take an un-mindful step in its stride. If the ligaments and tendons adjoining the ankles are stiff, then slight twist or turn will produce a rupture.
7 Yoga postures for Strength and Flexibility of the Ankle
1. Uttitha Parsvakonasana
Keep your arms out and legs apart. Bend the right knee, your right thigh should be parallel to the ground – right knee and ankle in one line; right thigh and right calf forming a 90-degree angle. Bring your arms down and keep the right palm by the side of the feet. Left palm over the ear and stretched at 45-degrees from the body.
This asana tones up the ankles, knees, and thighs. Reduces fat around waist and hips, also relieves sciatic and arthritic pain. This pose is a good pose to do if you have sprained your ankle recently or if your ankle pains very easily. Do this pose and the next one (Utkatasana) to build the ankle strength gradually and then venture into the more strenuous one leg postures.
Stand with your feet 6 inches apart and in Tadasana. Bend your knees; your lower belly should be sucked in to support your spine. Move your shoulder blades down and keep your chest open and thrust out across your shoulders. Take a deep breath and extend your arms in front of you, parallel to the ground and parallel to each other. Stay here five breaths, challenging yourself to sit a little lower with each breath.
Utkatasana strengthens the spine, calves, thighs and ankles, stretches the chest and shoulders, stimulates the heart, diaphragm and abdominal organs.
The controlled pressure on the ankle and using the heel and the toes to shift the weight gradually throughout the feet build the strength of the muscles around the ankle.
3. Dandayamano Janusirasana
Start by bringing your feet together. Now take your right leg up & hold your right foot firmly with both hands. Our challenge is to get the right knee straight. It’s a must that the leg on which we stand remain straight at all times. Try to keep both the knees absolutely straight and the thigh muscles tight. Straighten the right leg parallel to the floor. Bring your forehead or the chin to your right knee.
This standing head to knee posture helps to tighten abdominal and thigh muscles, improves the flexibility of sciatic nerves, hamstrings and is good for the overall health of the leg muscles. The load bearing nature of the pose strengthens the ankle. Also turning the ankle inward improves its flexibility. It also increases concentration, patience, and determination.
We move into the pose from a high lunge position. Bend your torso until it is folded over the top of the left thigh while you exhale. The back and arms should now be parallel to the floor. Tuck your chin to extend the back of the neck. Lift your right foot slowly off the floor, while concentrating on a steady spot on the wall and ensure that you feel balanced. Raise your leg until it is fully extended behind you. Rotate your right thigh so that your hip is parallel to the floor. Straighten your left leg and press the sole of your foot firmly into the floor. Breathe deeply for five breaths.
Raise your leg until it is fully extended behind you. Rotate your right thigh so that your hip is parallel to the floor. Straighten your left leg and press the sole of your foot firmly into the floor. Breathe deeply for five breaths. Extend through your fingertips and stretch backward through your raised leg at the same time.
This pose, strengthens back, leg, shoulder, and arm muscles, stretches hamstrings and out thighs, improves core awareness, posture, balance, and coordination, expands your chest, lungs, and shoulders. Standing on one leg with a steady mind you can focus on the ankle and assess its strength. It should hold you without pain, however, if it hurts then we need to check our dietary habits and increase the amount of protein we intake and go do more of utkatasana to increase the strength gradually.
Keep your feet together and take your right leg up on the thigh. So now you are standing on one leg. Focus and balance here. Pull both the knees back and bring them in one line. Now fold your hands in a namaskar completing the vrikshasana. Fold the left knee and bring your palms down to the floor, taking support. Lift your heels and sit down completely. At this point, you are balancing on the toes of your left feet. As we sit we also take the support of our palms for balance. Take your hands off the ground one at a time. Do a namaskar. Keep your eyes steadily focused in order to achieve a higher degree of concentration.
At this point, you are balancing on the toes of your left feet. As we sit we also take the support of our palms for balance. Take your hands off the ground one at a time. Do a namaskar. Keep your eyes steadily focused in order to achieve a higher degree of concentration.
Major joints used during this pose are knee and pelvic. Standing in vrikshasana helps open up the pelvic joint and sitting in padangushtasana builds further on the same.
It helps strengthen the knee and the ankle joints. It helps develop the power of concentration and focus. Without concentrating on here and now balancing on the single toe is impossible. Repeated practice of the posture is like repeatedly training the mind.
Pressure on the ankles and toes are immense, transferring the weight while getting up requires the ankle to be strong, regular practice increases the strength. Holding for longer duration makes sure that the ankle is flexed sufficiently.
Sit in vajrasana and then spread your heels apart and sit with your buttocks touching the floor. Straighten your spine and keep your hand firmly on the knee. This is where vajrasana finishes. If you are comfortably seated take the pose to the next level by doing the suptavajrasana. With your buttocks touching the floor grab your heels and bend your elbows.
Let it touch the floor one by one and then lie down with your head and shoulders touching the floor. Lift your arms and grab your elbows around your head. Lift the rib cage up. A pose of supreme importance for ankle, knee, and pelvic joint; it improves the entire skeletal structure and is a corrective posture for bent backs.
This pose helps you relieve lower back pain. Ustrasana also helps tone organs of the abdomen, pelvis, and neck. Stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back; it also expands the abdominal region, improving digestion and elimination.
Keeping the ankle flat for durations of over a minute increases the range of motion of the ankle; those who have stiff ankles will find their ankle far away from the floor – with practice the gap between the ankle and floor goes down and the capacity of your ankle to be held in a flexed position increases.
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