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Ankle Stretches for Seniors and the Elderly

Heel Stand

Ankle stretches, including the heel stand below, is a great addition to your senior and elderly standing exercise program. Ankle movements increase the blood flow through your legs, helping to prevent pooling.

The calf muscle is the primary mover of your ankle when going up on your toes. Your anterior tibialis muscle is located in the front of your leg which allows you to rise up on your heels.

This exercise also provides a great opportunity to practice your balance when going back on your heels. Make sure you hold on to a chair with either one finger, one hand or both hands for safety.

As you get better at balancing on your heels, try using less and less support. But remember to always have a chair handy for those times when the legs are a little tired.

Purpose of this exercise

Strengthens the front part of the lower leg. You will become better able to raise your toes to avoid tripping.

Step 1

Stand, using a chair to balance yourself.


Step 2

Raise up on your heels. Lower and repeat 10 times.



Exhale during the toe up movement phase. Inhale during the toe down movement phase.


Don’t lean on the chair too much. Try to keep a straight body when lifting your toes. If you get a cramp, stop and massage your muscle.

Take it up a notch

Try holding on with just one hand, one finger, then let go completely and balance on your heels.

How to do Heel Stand

How to do Heel Stand

More Lower Body Strengthening

1. Ankle Circles

  • This exercise improves your ankle flexibility and ability to move your ankle upward and downward.
  • This is a great warm up exercise for the lower leg and feet.

2. Hip Marching

  • This exercise will strengthen your hip flexor and thighs.
  • With correct seated posture it will also help your abdominal muscles.

3. Knee Extension

  • Strengthening your knees width knee strengthening exercises will improve your ability to stand and balance.
  • This exercise will improve your available knee range of motion.

4. Calf Raises

  • Strengthening your calf muscles with calf exercises will give your more power to step forward on level surfaces or carry you up hills on uneven terrain.
  • Helps pump blood up from your legs to your upper-body and brain.

5. Standing Knee Flexion

  • These knee exercises strengthens your hamstring muscles.
  • Also helps with your standing balance.

6. Side Hip Raise

  • Safely strengthens your side hip muscles to help with hip arthritis.
  • Helps maintain your lower body endurance to better walk and side step around objects.

7. Sit to Stand

  • Excellent hip exercises to maintain your leg and hip strength.
  • One of the most important exercises used daily to keep your independence and confidence.

8. Heel Stand

  • Strengthens the front part of the lower leg with ankle stretches.
  • You will become better able to raise your toes to avoid tripping.

9. Lunges

  • To strengthen your quadriceps and hips with leg toning exercises.
  • Improve your ability to get out of a chair and balance.
  • Help you with lifting chores around the house.

10. Straight Leg Raise

  • To increase your quadriceps and hip flexor strength with this leg workout.
  • To strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • Allow you to advance your leg during walking with greater ease.

11. Partial Squats

  • Increase your hip flexibility, quadriceps strength and hip flexor strength.
  • Improve your ability to get up from a chair and walk.
  • Steady your body for better balance and safety.

12. Hip Extension

  • This exercise will help with strengthening the hip joint and muscles.
  • This will improve the ability to walk and propel yourself forward or up stairs.

Resources Family Caregivers https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/STEADI-CaregiverBrochure.pdf