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Exercises for Arthritis in the Ankles

author image Crystal Welch
Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.
Exercises for Arthritis in the Ankles
Exercises can help your ankle arthritis. Photo Credit ANKLE FRACTURE image by Dr Cano from Fotolia.com

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, states the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). Exercising your arthritic ankle will protect your joint health. Exercises will help keep your ankle joint lubricated, increase your blood circulation and improve your muscle functioning. Keeping your muscles properly functioning will increase your ankle's stability and increase your comfort level. Start these exercises slowly. Consult with your doctor prior to starting any exercise routine.

Ankle Circles

Doing some ankle circles will help keep your ankle joint flexibility. Ankle circles will also keep your ankle joint lubricated, says the Sit and Be Fit website. Sit with your back supported by either a chair back or pool wall. Slowly straighten your knee, states the University of Washington Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Department. Hold your knee straight. Slowly, make large clockwise-direction circles with your toes. You will be moving your ankle. Make 10 circles. Return your foot to the original position. Relax for five seconds. Straighten your leg again and make 10 more circles in a counterclockwise direction. Doing this exercise routine in warm water will not be as stressful on your ankle joints as compared to land-based routines.

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Towel Grabber

Start using your foot to pick up a towel. The towel grabber exercise can help with ankle arthritis, says the Holistic Online website. Sit upright in a firm, straight-backed chair. Do this exercise with bare feet. Place a towel onto the floor in front of your chair. Gently place your feet onto the towel. Your heels will be on the edge of the towel that is closest to you. Grab hold of the towel with your toes and pull on the towel. You will be arching your feet and moving your ankle as you do this. Pull and move the towel back toward you. Do this for 10 seconds. Rest for five seconds. Start pulling on the towel again for another 10 seconds. As you pull on the towel, it will be accumulating beneath your feet. Make certain to keep your heels firmly planted on the floor. Do not lift them.

Do a reverse towel grabber. Once you have accumulated as much of your towel underneath your feet as possible, start to reverse your toe motion. You will be moving the towel back out to its flat position. Do this for 10 seconds at a time. Rest for five seconds between movements.


Use isometrics to exercise your arthritic ankle. Isometric exercises involve contracting your muscles, says the University of Washington Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Sit in a firm chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor, states the Cyber PT website. You will be doing a plantarflexion while performing this exercise. Lift your arthritic ankle and move your leg so that you place your foot on top of your other ankle. Press your arthritic foot into your other foot. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds. Relax for five seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

Start doing another version of this ankle isometric exercise, known as a dorsiflexion. While your arthritic foot is on top of your other foot, pull up on your good foot, according to the Cyber PT website. You will be pressing your bottom foot up towards your top foot in this motion. Hold this tension for 10 seconds. Relax for five seconds. Repeat another 10 times.

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