Swollen ankles are common in older adults and can affect your daily life. Many senior living communities offer services and amenities that focus on physical fitness, wellness, and routine health assessments to help their residents stay healthy.
Swollen ankles can be painful and uncomfortable. They can make daily tasks challenging and limit mobility. The good news is that you can incorporate simple exercises into your routine to help reduce swelling and improve blood circulation to get you back on your feet.
What Causes Swollen Ankles?
Minimal swelling in the ankles after standing or walking for long periods is not usually cause for concern. However, sudden or chronic ankle swelling can indicate an underlying health problem.
Causes of ankle swelling in older adults can result from:
- Heart failure
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Injury to the ankle
- Lymphedema (excess fluid accumulation in the tissues)
- Venous insufficiency (blood trapped in the ankle’s soft tissue)
- Blood clot
- Medication side effects
How Exercise Can Reduce Ankle Swelling
It can seem counterintuitive to do exercises when you have swollen ankles, but exercise can improve blood circulation and help prevent fluid accumulation in the legs and ankles. Even moderate exercise can help decrease swelling.
Below, we cover 6 simple exercises to reduce ankle swelling. Before you attempt any exercise program, always consult your healthcare professional.
One of the easiest exercises to relieve swollen ankles is ankle circles. Ankle circles help improve blood circulation, reducing fluid buildup and easing discomfort. You can even do ankle circles while sitting in a chair:
- Sit in a comfortable chair.
- Lift one foot off the ground and extend your leg.
- Rotate your ankle in a circular motion. Make 10 rotations in one direction and then switch to the other.
- Repeat this exercise with the other ankle.
Heel slides are an effective exercise for reducing ankle swelling and promote circulation:
- While sitting in a chair, place both feet flat on the ground.
- Slide your heels towards your body and hold for a few seconds.
- Slide your heels back out.
- Repeat 10–15 times.
Seated Leg Lifts
Seated leg lifts are an excellent exercise for people with limited mobility and help improve circulation and reduce fluid retention in your ankles:
- Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift one leg off the ground, extending it fully.
- Hold the extended position for a few seconds, feeling the stretch in your calf and ankle.
- Lower your leg back to the floor.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Ankle pumps use the calf muscles to pump blood to the heart and are one of the easiest ways to control swelling:
- Sit in a chair or lie down on your back if comfortable.
- Flex your toes upward and hold for 3 seconds.
- Then, flex your toes down and hold for 3 seconds.
- Continue for 10 repetitions.
Tennis Ball Massage
Tennis ball massages aren’t technically an exercise, but they can help increase circulation to your feet:
- Sit on a chair with your feet on the floor or stand upright.
- Place a tennis ball under the arch of one foot.
- Roll the ball from the heel to the toes using light pressure.
- Continue for 30 seconds.
- Repeat with the other foot.
Resistance Band Exercises
Resistance bands are a fantastic tool for strengthening your ankle muscles and improving flexibility. Resistance band exercises are a versatile and effective way to target ankle swelling while enhancing the strength and stability of your ankles:
- Find a comfortable spot to sit on the floor.
- Loop the resistance band around your feet to hold them together, and hold the other end of the resistance band.
- Move your feet away from each other against the bands to feel the resistance.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds and release.
- Repeat 10 times.
Relief for Swollen Ankles
Swollen ankles can really hinder the daily lives of older adults. With these 6 easy exercises, you can find relief and regain mobility. Remember to speak to your doctor before incorporating these exercises into your routine.If you’re looking for a senior living community that offers residents on-site physical fitness services to improve overall health, strength, and balance, schedule a tour at All American Assisted Living at Wrentham to learn more.