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Ankle exercise can help with walking

Project Activate® - Support Independence and Resilience!

From Montana Office on Aging and Brilliant Aging

Weeks of sedentary days can threaten your independence. Join us for simple activities you can do at home to support independence a resilience.

Losing physical function was considered a normal part of aging, but now we know better. It's very common and predictable, but preventable! Build up your functional reserves of strength, mobility and endurance to protect your independence.

Daily activities such as lifting, carrying, dressing, and getting out of a chair or tub require arm strength. If you feel fatigued after completing small tasks that once seemed easy, it's time to intervene! Improve strength by asking your muscles to do more than they've been doing on a regular basis.

Daily activities such as walking, rising from a chair, getting into and out of bed, the tub, or a car require leg strength. If you feel fatigued after completing some of these basic functional tasks it's time to intervene, as leg strength is key to remaining independent!

A recent column identified the basic elements of a strong walking pattern: good posture, strong ankle flexion and heel strike, balanced weight transfer, and proper stride length for forward (not side to side) movement. Take a moment to consider how well each element of your personal walking pattern is working to support your balance and agility.

Are you maintaining good posture? What does your stride look like? How strong is your ankle flexion? A strong ankle flexion requires building strength in the shin muscles so it's important to pay attention to this small muscle group.

It's also important to keep your feet flexible with the toes able to curl under and/or spread apart in reaction to changes in the walking surface. The ankle flexion/toe curl exercises can be done anytime you're seated and can be done as many times per day as you like! Consider committing to performing these exercises during every commercial break while watching TV, and you'll be surprised at how quickly these muscles fatigue. That's a good thing because they'll respond by getting stronger!

Always follow a physician's advice on exercise

Ankle Flexion: Sit with your back straight but resting on the chair back. Flex the ankles as far as possible while keeping the heels on the floor, hold 8 counts while breathing normally. Relax feet to neutral then curl the toes under (8 counts), flex toes up and wiggle them freely (8 counts), then relax to neutral. Repeat full sequence 4-8 times beginning with ankle flexion.


For healthy aging resources and consulting visit Brilliant Aging at

For services and support for people 60 and older and their caregivers call 1-800-551-3191 or visit .


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