6. Single Leg Calf Raises, Calf Stretches and Hand Walks
Your calves play a key role in your movement. If your calves are weak, you are prone to ankle injuries because the calf muscles are responsible for extending the ankle.
Single leg calf raises: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your left knee to hip level with your toes pointed, keeping your hands on your hips. Lift your right heel as high as you can off the floor. Hold for three seconds and lower the heel back down again. Repeat on the other side. This exercise works on your ankles, your heels and the muscles around the knee. If you are stronger and have no ankle pain, you can perform this exercise standing on a step, with your heels extending off of the edge. If you are standing, make sure you have something nearby, such as a wall or railing, to hold for balance.
Calf stretch: This simple move stretches the calf and improves ankle flexibility – both key for everyday life. Stand in a split stance and lean forward against a wall or some other support. Your feet should be pointing straight ahead. Sit back on your heels to stretch the calves, hold for a few seconds and release. Do two sets of 10 reps on each side, taking a 30-second rest between sets.
Hand walks: This exercise strengthens and stretches the calf muscles while also working the hamstrings and lower back. Start with your legs straight and your hands on the floor. Keep your legs straight and walk your hands out. Then walk your feet back up to your hands, making sure your legs are straight. Take baby steps, so you’re using your ankles and not your hips or knees.