Ankle ABCs

Healthy, injury-free ankles require three things: mobility, stability and strength. But achieving this trifecta is easier said than done. That's why Dance Spirit turned to Abigail Bales, DPT, CSCS, for a series of exercises that'll strengthen, support and stabilize your ankles—and your dancing, overall.


"The ankle has multiple joints and moves in multiple planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. All three must be addressed when assessing mobility, stability and strength," Bales says.

Pro tip: First try the exercises without relevé, then advance to relevé to amp up your workout.

(All photos by Jayme Thornton. Modeled by Jessica Barr.)

Without Relevé

A. Sagittal

1. Stand with your feet in parallel, balance on your left leg and bend your left knee.

2. Reach your right foot forward and tap your toe on the floor, then return to the starting position.

3. Reach your leg behind you and tap the ground with the top of your foot, then return to the starting position.

Repeat 5 times, then add relevé.

Sagittal exercise, part 1.

And part 2.

B. Frontal

1. Stand with your feet in parallel.

2. Balance on your left leg, keeping your left leg straight and reach your right leg across your body (no hip rotation), leaning to the right.

3. Reach your right leg to the right side in parallel, bending your left knee and leaning to the left.

Repeat 5 times, then add relevé.

Frontal exercise, part 1.

And part 2.

C. Transverse

1. Stand straight on your left leg in parallel.

2. Reach your right leg straight in front of your body and rotate your hips to the left, tap your toe to the ground.

3. Reach your right leg around and to the rear of your body, rotating your hips to the right, tapping your toe to the ground.

Repeat 5 times, then add relevé.

Transverse exercise, part 1.

And part 2.

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