Weekend Challenge: Ankle And Foot Strengthener - Save Our Bones

A significant portion of your balancing ability depends on the strength and mobility of your feet and ankles. By mimicking real-life balance challenges, this weekend’s exercise targets the feet and ankles in their stabilizing role. Additionally, the Ankle And Foot Strengthener improves balance and shoulder mobility.

We also bring you studies that show the importance of healthy and strong feet in fall prevention.


Savers know that balance exercises reduce the risk of falling and therefore prevent fractures, but what’s often overlooked is the role of the ankles and feet.

As we age, our feet can become painful, stiff, or malformed. Hammer toes, bunions, and curled-under toes are just a few of the difficulties that can plague aging feet.

These painful conditions can be more than a nuisance. According to a Boston-based research team, foot pain is a significant factor in falls, particularly indoors.1 When your feet hurt, you are more likely to compensate for this by altering the position of your feet on the ground, thus skewing your ankles’ posture and compromising stability. When walking indoors, you’re more likely to have objects to step over and walk around…and if you have children or grandchildren, small toys can really pack a punch to your feet!

Researchers in Australia wanted to know more about how foot pain relates to falls. So they moved away from high-risk adults only and focused instead on how this issue – foot pain and falling – plays out among seniors.

One hundred and fifty-eight men and 154 women age 60 or older were randomly recruited for a one-year study, which sought to determine the role of foot pain and “plantar pressure” in causing falls among older adults. After assessing the volunteers’ baseline foot pain, “dynamic plantar pressures,” and their fall incidence during the preceding year, the volunteers were divided into “fallers and non-fallers.”

Not surprisingly, the fallers “had a significantly higher prevalence of foot pain” over the non-fallers, with fallers generating a higher “peak pressure and pressure-time integral under the foot than non-fallers.”2 This was also shown to be true among those who experienced foot pain.

In other words, seniors with painful feet and a tendency to fall also experienced a higher pressure of their foot against the ground. This excessive plantar pressure may be a causal factor in the participants’ foot pain, and thus a contributor to the likelihood of falling.

So to reduce fall risk, it’s important to tone and strengthen the feet and ankles to become more adept, stable, and flexible. And this weekend’s challenge is designed to do just that, in addition to improving your balance!


It’s best to perform this exercise barefoot (if you can’t, don’t worry). It’s also a good idea to practice this move near a bed, chair, or wall, so you’ll have something to hold on to if you lose your balance.

  1. Step forward with your right foot, placing it directly in front of your left. Your right heel and left toe should not be touching, but they should be in a straight line. Your pelvis and torso should also be facing forward, not twisted to the side.
  2. Let your hands hang down naturally at your sides, and then turn your left hand, so your palm is facing forward, fingertips pointing down.
  3. Turn your head only and look down at your left hand.
  4. Follow your hand with your eyes as you bring it out and in an arc up over your head, keeping your elbow straight. Your palm will rotate to the right and down as you bring it down and across your body to your right hip.
  5. Bring your hand in a slow arc back to the starting position, keeping your eyes on it the whole time.
  6. Repeat this eight to 10 times, and then switch sides (and step forward with the left foot) for another eight to 10 reps.

We suggest you follow up with these three Weekend Challenges that also address foot and ankle strength:

Beyond Ankles And Feet

Because it is designed to strengthen fracture-prone areas, the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System offers many exercises that work the ankles and feet. Examples include the Hopscotch Jump (page 26), Heel Lift (page 23), and One Step Jump (page 33). These are just a few of the ankle-stabilizing exercises in Densercise™, which are part of the more than 50 targeted bone-building moves.

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I hope you’ll enjoy this weekend’s challenge. Feel free to share your thoughts on today’s exercise by leaving a comment below.

Enjoy the weekend!


1 Awale, A., et al. “Foot Function, Foot Pain, and Falls in Older Adults: The Framingham Foot Study.” Gerontology. 63. 4. (2017): 318-324. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28482340
2 Mickle, K.J., et al. “Foot pain, plantar pressures, and falls in older people: a prospective study.” J Am Geriatr Soc. 58. 10. (2010): 1936-1940. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20831725

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  1. Sue

    Does anyone have the newsletter or topic for the January 13, 2018 Weekend Challenge? I save mine, but this one is missing.

  2. Martin

    Need feet strengthing exercises ankle osteoarthritis but very fit , gym 3 day’s a week .

  3. Ita Fitzgerald

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You are welcome as well, Ita!

  4. Iris

    I tried this exercise this morning and I really like it. Thank you, Vivian!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Iris. 🙂

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