Whether you have had a broken ankle or torn the ligaments in the ankle or foot or extreme sprain; modified yoga can effectively strengthen weak ankles. Weak ankles need time to become stronger. The poses take some practice and some patience. If you proceed slowly modified yoga will begin to strengthen your ankles. The most important thing is to go at your own pace and give yourself ample time to rest. We are not going to rush the healing recovery period, and weight-bearing poses can be painful as you start. The way to proceed is with frequent starts and stops. It starts and stops.
We are going to do some weight-bearing poses and we are going to do some ankle stretches. All of which will be uncomfortable as you heal. One of the first I suggest for weak ankles is some wall stretches that will stretch out the Achilles and heel. Face the wall, put your hands on the wall about chest high. We start in a lunge stretch with left foot forward and right foot back. Attempt to keep the right heel down, as you push your weight forward to your left leg lunge. Release after about five seconds and do it again to the same side or switch sides. If you have switched feet, right foot forward, and left-back. Place your left heel down if you can. Slowly lunge forward. Stop if the stretch is too much. Take a pause, and rotate your ankle in a circle. Switch sides and rotate the other ankle. Do the same lunge against the wall, once again attempt to keep your heel down. Do both sides.
The next pose can be done against the wall or free-standing without holding on. Standing with your feet about hip-width apart, push your heels up, and count for about five to fifteen seconds. Come down. Heels up once again. Now, we are going to push up onto the balls of our feet for five to fifteen seconds, and lower your heels halfway down, before you finish. Up, halfway down, and up again. Come down completely and rest. Again, heels up fully, lower heels halfway down, up fully, and lower down to rest on the ground.
You can hold onto the wall or back of a chair for this exercise. We are going to try the exercise on one leg. Stand on one foot, and let the other rest close to the other leg, or resting against the leg. Press up the heel of the foot that you are standing on, count five to fifteen seconds, and come down. Standing on one foot causes leverage. Come down and rotate the ankle. Stand on the other foot, and press up that heel for five to fifteen seconds. This strengthens the ankle, calf, and Achilles.
For this next pose, you can hold onto the back of a chair if you are concerned about balance. First, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to your left foot. See where your big toe starts on your left foot. Bring your right heel to the side of the left big toe, walk the heel approximately two inches in front of your left big toe, and then place the right heel on the floor to the right about twelve inches. Bend your left leg so that all the weight is on your left. With your right foot, place your heel down, and lift your toes up. This is a dynamic stretch, and you will feel it on your ankles, quad muscles, and calves. Take your right hand and slide it down your right leg until you can’t reach any further. If you can reach your toes on the right foot, hold for five seconds to fifteen. But hold onto your leg or foot where you feel comfortable.
If you can’t do that as described. A modification can be done with a strap. Put the strap on your right foot first, and hold onto your strap, and lean your body towards your right foot, as much as you can. Holding onto the strap is a good modification if you are not too flexible or concerned for balance. This provides good leverage, and it’s a pose that can be done safely with a strap.
Now we switch. If you are holding onto a chair, switch hands. Move clear of the chair. Stand on both feet, shift all your weight to the right foot. Move your left heel past your right big toe by two inches, and slide approximately twelve inches to the left. Place your left heel down, and bring your toes up. Slide left hand down as far as you can reach. Hold the pose for five to fifteen seconds. Release.
After our modified yoga poses if your ankles, feet, or legs feel sore. Rest your feet, prop your feet and legs and ice the ankles if you need. Have some patience. It takes time to heal, and getting used to weight-bearing again, takes some practice. But if you continue with your modified yoga poses daily, you will begin to feel strong again. Modified yoga can be very effective, but please don’t rush the process. You will get stronger, just allow yourself patience, and allow that it’s okay to be exactly where you are right now. Nothing more. You’ll get there.