Get cozy and stretch out tight, achy ankles with these seated poses – no standing necessary.
Our feet and ankles are meant to grip, turn, flex, and extend, with built-in stability. But the shoes we wear – especially flip flops and heels – force our feet into unnatural positions.
Wearing shoes immobilizes the muscles and bones of our feet. As a result, our feet and ankles become weak and unstable, which can lead to sore feet at the end of the day. Taking a moment to release tight ankles and strengthen the weakened muscles around them will improve your daily movement and prevent injury.
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These seated yoga poses can be used every day to alleviate ankle pain and stiffness. All you’ll need is a yoga mat, block, and a strap. Note: If you have an ankle injury, check with your doctor before trying new exercises.
Erase Ankle Pain with These 8 Easy Yoga Poses
Side-to-Side | 8 reps
Stretching your ankles in this seated pose strengthens side-to-side motion and improves overall mobility.
- Start seated on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you. Sit up tall, engage your abs, and place your hands on the floor next to your hips. Bring your legs all the way together and flex your feet.
- Turn the soles of your feet inward so that they look like they are coming into a prayer position. Then, reverse the motion and turn the soles of your feet outward.
- Repeat the inward and outward motion a total of eight times.
Toe Point | 8 reps
Warm up the ankle joint and increase mobility with this stretch.
- Begin sitting up on your mat. Straighten both legs down your mat and place your hands down by your sides.
- Point your toes until you feel a nice stretch through the front of both ankles.
- Then, flex your toes back towards your shins as far as you can, feeling a stretch through the Achilles and calves.
- Repeat for eight reps.
Deer Pose | 8 breaths per side
Ankle tightness and pain can lead to lower back pain, and vice versa. This pose brings the ankles into a relaxed state and opens up the hips and lower back.
- Start seated in butterfly, with the soles of your feet together and your knees wide.
- Move your left leg back behind your body, keeping the knee bent so that your heel is close to your left sit bone.
- Place your right hand on the floor next to you and bring your left hand to your right thigh.
- Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to twist your shoulders to the right.
- Hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.
Half-Reclining Hero | 8 breaths per side
This seated pose stretches the top of the ankle and foot, alleviating tightness caused by keeping the ankles in a constant flexed position.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and both feet on the floor.
- Move your right leg back behind you, bringing it close to your hip. Your foot should be pointing straight back. If you feel any pain or pinching in your right knee, put a block underneath your hips.
- Straighten your left leg down your mat in front of you.
- Place your hands on the ground behind your hips and lean back into your palms, keeping your elbows soft and your shoulders relaxed.
- Hold for eight breaths, then switch sides.
Half Lotus | 8 breaths per side
In this modified version of full lotus pose, you’ll stretch your feet and ankles while protecting the knees and hips.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Keep a tall spine.
- Hug your right knee into your chest. Then bring your right ankle to the crease of your left hip so that the sole of your right foot faces the sky.
- Bend your left knee and cross your left ankle underneath your right knee.
- Place your palms face up on your thighs and breathe here for 8 breaths. Then, straighten both legs out in front of you and switch sides.
Supported Yogi Squat | 8 breaths
Increase flexibility, mobility, and stability of the ankles while also stretching the calves, quads, and hips in this supported squat pose.
- Start in a standing forward fold with your feet slightly wider than your hips. The closer your feet are together, the deeper the stretch will be in your ankles. Turn your toes out 45-degrees.
- Place a block on the medium height between your feet. Sit your hips down until you are comfortably sitting on the block.
- Bring your palms to heart center and use your elbows to gently press your thighs open while simultaneously squeezing the thighs inward. Draw your navel up and in. Keep your heels down.
- If you don’t feel a stretch in your ankles, play with bringing your feet in closer or removing the block. Hold for eight breaths.
Toe Squat | 10 breaths
This pose reverses the effects of wearing shoes by stretching the back of the ankles, toes, and the fascia on the bottom of the feet.
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Bring your legs all the way together and tuck your toes under.
- Slowly walk your hands towards your thighs and sit your hips back on your heels. Lift your chest up and engage your abs.
- Hold for eight to ten breaths.
Note: This pose can feel very intense if you have tight feet and ankles. If you feel any pain, immediately come out of the stretch.
Hero Pose with Strap | 10 breaths
This pose improves front-to-back mobility of the ankles and encourages a nice stretch across the ankle.
- Start kneeling on your mat. Reach back behind you and wrap your strap around your ankles a couple of times. The strap should be taut so that it keeps your ankles from rolling outward.
- Sit back on your heels. Rest your hands on your thighs and lift your chest upright.
- Feel the deep stretch in your ankles as you hold for 8-10 breaths.
Note: If you have tight quads or sensitive knees, practice this pose without a strap by placing a yoga block on the medium height between your feet and sitting your hips on the block.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Soothing Stretches for Ankle Mobility)