I have this pair of *gorgeous* shoes. They’re pointy-toed, sky-high nude stilettos. (Yes, sometimes we don't wear sneakers at WH!) And when I put them on, I feel downright fierce...until one of my ankles gets way tired and sore. Naturally, I’ve wondered: Is that ankle weak?

TBH, it's possible. If you've felt wobbly on one leg, your ankle could be too. And, there's so much more to strong ankles than wearing fancy shoes.

First of all, your ankle joint takes a lot of impact and holds a great deal of body weight, says Olivia Platania, CPT, a personal trainer, NBA dancer, and Rumble Boxing instructor in New York City. In fact, the ankle joint complex bears a force of about five times your body weight when you’re walking and as much as 13 times your body weight when you’re running, according to a 2016 paper from Orthopaedics and Trauma.

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Ankle strength can also help you perform at your best. “As a dancer, I have to move in every which way while also being up on my toes,” Platania says. “If I’m lacking that strength, I’m going to be hindered from my basic [dance] requirements.”

Ankle strength helps with balance, which can be important for runners. If you look at a picture of a runner mid-stride, Platania explains, you’ll essentially see them balancing on one leg. Strong ankles keep you stable, even when you’re striking different kinds of surfaces. (Think: everything from smooth pavement to uneven terrain.)

How To Measure Your Ankle Strength

Not really sure how tough your base is? There's an easy test to find out. “If you try to balance on one leg and you feel like you’re wobbling back and forth, that could be a sign that you have weak ankles,” Platania says.

But don’t fret too much if that sounds like you. You can stabilize your ankles as you work on strengthening them. The right shoes—something that's supportive but not too restrictive, Platania explains—can help.

Now that you know why ankle strength is clutch, read on for expert-recommended ankle strengthening exercises to banish wobbles for good.

8 Best Ankle Strengthening Exercises

While you're working on strengthening the joints, these movements can help improve your ankle range of motion, too. That goes hand-in-hand with ankle strength, per Platania.

Aim to complete this ankle-strengthening routine at least three to four times per week. “These exercises are really easy to do at home,” Platania says. “It’s something that could be fun to incorporate into your everyday routine.”

1. Plantar Flexion

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania

“Plantar flexion refers to the movement of pointing the top of your foot away from your body, or towards the floor if you’re standing,” Platania says. This kind of movement comes into play for lots of daily tasks (Think: rising up onto your toes to reach for something on a high shelf, going down the stairs, or pressing the gas pedal in your car).

How-to:

  1. Sit on the floor with legs extended out in front.
  2. Point right foot and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Bring foot back to neutral. That's one rep.
  4. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps with each foot.

2. Dorsiflexion

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania


Dorsiflexion is a technical term, but it comes up often in everyday life. “This refers to the movement of pointing the top of your foot towards your body,” Platania says. This motion is part of daily tasks like climbing stairs, walking, running, and squat patterns (ie sitting in a chair).

How-to:

  1. Sit on the floor with legs extended out in front.
  2. Flex right foot so toes are moving toward your body. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Bring foot back to neutral. That's one rep.
  4. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps with each foot.

3. Plantar Flexion With A Resistance Band

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania


Adding a band increases resistance on the joint while working this range of motion, Platania says.

How-to:

  1. Sit on floor with legs extended straight out in front.
  2. Wrap resistance band around bottom of right foot, with hands holding the other end(s) of the band.
  3. Increase resistance by adding a slight pull from hands. Point right foot and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  4. Bring foot back to neutral. That's one rep.
  5. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps with each foot.

4. Dorsiflexion With A Resistance Band

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania


Adding a band increases resistance on the joint while working this range of motion, Platania says.

How-to:

  1. Sit on floor with legs extended out in front.
  2. Make a loop with the resistance band and attach it to a secure and stable object (like a couch, a heavy chair, or a bed post). Place right foot on inside of opposite end of band so band is looped around top of foot.
  3. Flex right foot so toes are moving toward your body. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  4. Let foot return to neutral. That's one rep.
  5. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps with each foot.

5. Single Leg Balance

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania

The single leg balance is an indicator of your ankle strength, and it’s a movement that’s included in many daily activities, Platania says. One example? Walking.

How-to:

  1. Stand with feet comfortably under hips and weight evenly distributed on both feet.
  2. Place hands on a stable surface in front of you (think: a chair, table, wall, couch, etc.).
  3. Shift weight to right foot while keeping both feet on the floor. Hold on the weight bearing foot for 10 seconds.
  4. Shift weight back to both feet and repeat on left foot. That's one rep.
  5. Complete three sets of 10 shifts (five on each side), taking rests as needed.

Pro tip: As you progress with this exercise, take away the object you’re holding onto.

6. Standing Heel Raises

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania


This is a leveled up version of plantar flexion, Platania says. The difference, she explains, is that standing heel raises are weight bearing, meaning they’re more of a challenge for your ankles and calf muscles.

How-to:

  1. Stand with feet comfortably underneath hips with weight evenly distributed on both feet. (Note: You can hold onto a stable surface if needed.)
  2. Shift weight forward onto toes while raising heels up.
  3. Slowly lower back down with control. That's one rep.
  4. Complete two to three sets of 10.

Pro tip: As you progress with this exercise, take away the object you’re holding onto.

7. Single Leg Balance With Movement

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania


How-to:

  1. Stand with feet comfortably underneath hips with weight on both feet. (Note: You can hold onto a stable surface if you’d like.)
  2. Shift all weight onto right foot while the left lifts off the ground.
  3. Move elevated foot around slowly, creating circle-like patterns with leg (this throws your working leg off-balance).
  4. Place right foot back down and return to starting position with weight evenly distributed. Repeat on left side. That's one rep.
  5. Complete three sets of 10 shifts (five on each side), taking rests as needed.

Pro Tip: As you progress with this exercise, stand on an unstable surface (think: a Bosu ball, a foam board, etc.) to further challenge your balance and ankle strength.

8. Single Leg Deadlift

ankle strengthening exercises
c/o Olivia Platania


Ready to amp up your ankles? The single leg deadlift challenges the ankle even more than the last two exercises, since you’re shifting more weight and moving more parts of your body.

This is a great exercise for runners, according to Platania. Deadlifts and single leg deadlifts primarily target the posterior chain (the back side of the body), and runners use posterior chain muscles when taking off for sprints and increasing stride length, she explains.

(A word of caution: If you have a previous ankle injury or are experiencing increasing ankle pain, consult your physician before trying this move.)

How-to:

  1. Stand with feet comfortably underneath hips with weight on both feet. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in right hand.
  2. Begin to bend hips backward, sending the weight toward the opposite foot, while picking up the right leg (same side as the DB or KB). Maintain a soft bend in the left knee as you hinge hips backward.
  3. Slowly lift up and return to starting position, lifting from the back of the standing leg. That's one rep.
  4. Complete 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

Pro tip: You can also do this with bodyweight alone.