All About Ankles

May 10th, 2021

All About Ankles
Guelph Physio

The ankle is responsible for the up-and-down and side-to-side motions of the foot. Here are some details on how they work and tips on how to increase range of motion in your ankles provided by the physiotherapy team here at the Health and Performance Centre (HPC).

Basic Ankle Anatomy

Ankle graphic

  • The ankle joint, or talocrural joint, is formed by the tibia and fibula and the talus. Below the talocrural joint is the subtalar joint, consisting of the talus and the calcaneus (better known as your heel).
  • The major ligaments of the ankle are the anterior talofibular, calcaneofibular, posterior talofibular, and the deltoid ligaments.
  • The ankle allows for dorsiflexion (toes up) and plantarflexion (toes down) motions of the foot, as well as inversion and eversion.

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What is an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments of the ankle are stretched beyond their limits, and often tear. There are three types of ankle sprains!

  • Lateral (inversion): this occurs when the foot/ankle is inverted. Pain will occur on the outside of the ankle. This is the most common type of ankle sprain!
  • Medial (eversion): this type of sprain occurs through eversion of the foot/ankle. Pain will occur on the inside of the ankle.
  • High ankle: this type of sprain occurs when the foot is hyper-dorsiflexed and externally rotated


Range of Motion exercises for ankle injuries:

Especially after an ankle sprain, it is important to maintain proper range of motion of the ankle joint to promote better healing! Try these exercises to put your ankle through full range of motion.

  1. Try tracing the alphabet in the air with your big toe!
  2. Try putting a towel flat on the floor and curl the towel in with your toes!
  3. Try keeping your foot flat on the floor while moving your knee side-to-side and front to back!

For video instruction, visit our Instagram page at


Ankle Stretching

It is very important to stretch the muscles surrounding the ankle to prevent injuries! Try these:

  1. Towel stretch: sit on the floor, roll up a towel, and place it underneath the ball of your foot. Keep your leg straight and gently pull the towel towards you to feel a great stretch in your ankle and calf muscles!
  2. Calf stretch: another great stretch for your calf muscles! Place your foot against a wall with your toes up and the other leg behind you for stability. Slowly lean forward to feel the stretch in your calf muscles!

For video instruction, visit our Gueph Physiotherapy Instagram page at


Ankle Strengthening

Try some of these ankle strengthening exercises to prevent a future ankle injury:

  1. Sit in a chair and place your flat foot against the wall so the entire outside of your foot is touching the wall. Gently but firmly press your foot into the wall and hold for 5 seconds, 8-12 times
  2. While sitting in a chair, place your feet together so that they are flat, but the inside surfaces are as close as they can get. Gently but firmly press your feet together while keeping them flat, imagining that you are trying to crush something between them. Hold this for 5 seconds, 8-12 times.
  3. Place one foot flat on the ground and place the heel of your other foot directly in the middle of the flat foot. Gently but firmly, flex your bottom foot (toes up to the air) while the top foot is pushing down, adding resistance. Hold this for 5 seconds, 8-12 times.
  4. Challenge yourself – how long can you balance on one leg?!

For video instruction, visit our Instagram page at


Stop doing these exercises immediately if you are experiencing any pain. To ensure you are doing them properly, speak to one of our trained physiotherapists here at the Health and Performance Centre for expert Guelph Physiotherapy treatment. 

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