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Exercises for Tendonitis of the Ankle

author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
Exercises for Tendonitis of the Ankle
Standing calf stretches will help with ankle tendinitis Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Tendons are tough bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone. In order for you to move, your muscles contract. This places tension on the tendons, which in turn pull on and move the bones. If through disease, overuse or injury your tendons become inflamed or irritated, you may develop tendinitis. Tendinitis can also be caused by too much training or training improperly, especially in the ankle joint, which can be subjected to a lot of excessive force. Exercises can help manage and prevent recurrence of ankle tendinitis.

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Calf Stretches

Several tendons in the ankle and foot can be affected by tendinitis. No matter which one is injured, you will need to stretch your ankle daily as well as before and after activity. Stretches should be done slowly and only to a pain-free level, according to Northcoast Foot Care. The calf muscle and the tendons attached to it can become very tight. To help loosen this area, stand with one foot in front of the other. Keep your back heel on the floor and bend the front knee to get into a lunge position. You should feel a stretch in the back ankle. This stretch is often called a runner's stretch. You can also stretch the calf area by sitting on the floor and wrapping a towel under the ball of your foot. Flex your foot and use the towel to pull the toes back gently until you feel a stretch. With both stretches, hold for a slow 30-second count and then repeat with the other leg.

Ankle Circles

If you have ankle tendinitis, you will need to do exercises that help restore mobility to your ankle joint. Sit and make a circle with your ankle in both directions. Repeat on the other side. You can also flex and point the toes. Drawing the letters of the alphabet in the air will also help to improve your range of motion. Do these exercises with both ankles throughout the day to keep the joint loose.

Heel Raises

According to the Summit Medical Group, you should start heel raises only after you can bear weight on your ankle without pain. Your doctor or physical therapist can tell you when you are ready. To help avoid future injuries, you will need to strengthen your ankles. To do the heel raise exercise for strengthening, come up onto both toes and lift the heels as high as you can off the floor without pain. Then lower down slowly. Avoiding banging down onto the heel as you lower. Try for eight to 12 repetitions. To make this exercise more challenging, wear ankle weights. You can also stand on a stair and let your heels hang off. Rise up onto the toes as high as you can. Then lower down, letting the heels drop below the level of the stair. Make sure you do not rock backward or lock the knees.

Tubing Ankle Pulls

The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society says as your range of motion improves, you can start to incorporate exercises that use tubing to strengthen the ankle. Do these exercises after your ankle tendinitis has healed. Tie the tubing in a circle, and place one end around a secure table leg and the other around your foot. Sit and face the table. Pull your toes up against the band. This exercise strengthens the shin. Next, turn your back to the table and push your toes down against the band to strengthen the calf. Turn so your right side is next to the table and pull your toes away, pressing the inside of your foot against the band. Turn and do the same on the other side. This time the band is against the outside of your foot. The last two exercises strengthen the inner and outer parts of the ankle. Try for one set of eight to 12 repetitions each way.

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