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Yoga poses to strengthen your ankles

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Yoga poses to strengthen your ankles

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Despite being small and seemingly delicate, the ankle joint bears our entire body weight. Keeping it fit and functional is important for our general well-being. Since it is easily injured by overuse or disuse, it is crucial to keep it fit, with some yogic power moves.

Some unsuspected causes to ankle injury: repeated activity (as with running, especially on bad surfaces and even gardening); sedentary life-style that stiffens the joint; incorrect technique while doing some special activity; lack of movement that swells up the joint due to weak lymphatic drainage. Obesity also overloads the joint. A bad posture can also aggravate ankle problems. The sense of balance, which begins to wobble in most of us once we become sedentary, is also closely linked to ankle health.

Unlike with other parts of the body, the ankle needs specific moves to keep it healthy.

Shameem Akthar, yogaacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center shows you five yoga practices that lubricate and power the ankle.

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Goolf Ghoornan (Ankle crank)

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Sit on the floor. (May also be done seated on chair). If on floor, stretch out left leg in front. Fold right leg at knee. Hold right foot with both hands. Using hands, crank toes towards yourself and then take them back. After your get the movement right, synchronize with your breath so you inhale as you move toes away from body and exhale as you draw them closer. Repeat five to ten times. Then switch to left leg, to repeat the exercise with left foot and ankle.

Benefits: It encourages lymphatic drainage at the lower extremes. Relieves tiredness and stiffness that come with either standing for too long or being seated for long.

It works out the entire foot. In reflexology, all our organs have nerve representations in the foot: in effect, such exercises tone our whole body through a short cut. The mind becomes alert since all feet-leg movements affect the brain through enhanced circulation.

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Goolf Naman (Ankle bend)

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This maybe done seated on a chair or on the floor. If on the floor, stretch out right leg in front. Inhale. Exhale. Bend foot at ankle, moving toes towards the floor, as far as you can. Inhale. Draw the foot back so the toes are curled towards yourself. This is one round. Do up to five to ten rounds. Then repeat for left side.

Benefits: Strengthens the tendons at the ankles, so they can take the pressure of your stride. Both legs get a powerful work-out. Preventive in any ankle injury. Toes are re-trained in the natural art of grip, thus powering your stride and helping to take the load off your ankle. Balances both hemispheres of the brain.

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Goolf Chakra (Ankle rotation)

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Sit on the floor, with both legs out in front of you. Let the feet touch lightly from inside. Draw a circle with your feet, with the heels remaining pressed down on the floor. Do five rounds clockwise and five rounds anti-clockwise.

Benefits: Encourages lymphatic drainage, promotes blood circulation, prevents oedema of the feet and refreshes the mind.

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Tadasana (Palmtree pose)

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Stand up straight. Place feet close. Inhale, going up on your toes. Exhale and drop heels back to ground (see left image). Repeat ten times.

Benefits: Encourages lymphatic drainage, promotes blood circulation and prevents oedema of the feet. It also refreshes the mind and improves posture.

Tadasana 2 (see image on the right)

Stand up straight. Place feet close. Inhale as you go up on your right heel. (If confident or with some firm support, like a chair, you may also go up on both heels together. For the latter, you need a sense of balance. That requires training. As you exhale, place foot flat on the ground. Repeat ten times for each foot.

Benefits: Same as above. Apart from improving posture and rectifying defects, it also improves sense of balance and co-ordination.

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