The ultimate guide to the ankle pump exercise: everything you need to know

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: January 8, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.

The ankle pump exercise is a versatile and powerful tool to strengthen and condition the muscles of the lower leg the gastrocnemius (calf) and soleus (beneath the calf) as well as the ankle.

An integral part of healing after an injury, the ankle pumps reduce swelling by pumping pooled blood effectively up and away from the legs while also providing a warm-up for physical activities such as running or jumping.

This exercise has proven to be an invaluable asset in aiding those dealing with pain, illness, or injury due to its low impact but highly beneficial nature.

It truly is a step toward renewed strength and mobility within these muscle groups.

The ultimate guide to the ankle pump exercise: everything you need to know

What is the ankle pump exercise?

Ankle pumps are a simple and convenient bodyweight exercise that can be done in an array of positions, from sitting to standing.

This simple move involves flexing the toes repeatedly and then pointing them, working the calves and improving circulation.

For those more familiar with exercises, ankle pumps can also be referred to as “calf raises” when performed while standing up.

Ankle pumps are an ideal exercise for those looking for a no-equipment workout that can be done anywhere without sacrificing effectiveness.

How to do the ankle pump exercise

When performing the ankle pump exercise, it is important to keep your feet flexed and point your toes towards your body. You should also keep your knees slightly bent throughout the entire movement.

To do the exercise:

Step 1: Sit in a comfortable position with your legs out in front of you.

Step 2: Flex your feet so that your toes are pointing towards your body.

Step 3: Keeping your knees bent, slowly lift your heels off the ground.

Step 4: Hold this position for a count of three, then lower your heels back to the starting position.

Step 5: Repeat this movement 10-15 times.

The ankle pump exercise can provide great benefit to your ankle’s strength and control, but introducing variation in the form of flexing and pointing the toes at different angles is an easy way to work these muscles a little more.

For an extra challenge, try tracing numbers, letters, or shapes with your toes. This can be beneficial if you are recovering from surgery or building up strength after an injury.

Additionally, this will aid in strengthening your ankle faster as well as working it from all angles.

Ankle Pumps As A Way To Prevent Thrombosis

Ankle pumps are a great way to ensure healthy circulation in your legs. By actively contracting your muscles, you help your veins push blood back up towards the heart, keeping it from pooling in the lower extremities especially the calves.

This is because, unlike arteries, veins rely heavily on muscular movement since there is such low pressure in them when compared to their counterparts.

Therefore, engaging in ankle pumps regularly can not only improve leg comfort but also contribute to overall cardiovascular health.

Blood clots can cause severe, life-threatening health complications if not properly monitored. These clots restrict blood flow and can form in even the most sensitive parts of the body, such as the heart or brain.

Understanding how a clot forms is critical to preventing its incidence. Typically, a lack of movement or activity, along with a lack of ‘muscle pump’ (blood circulation stimulated by muscle contractions), leads to an increased risk of developing clots.

This means that staying active and ensuring proper hydration are two essential steps to take in order to reduce the risk of developing a dangerous condition like a blood clot.

Prolonged periods of inactivity are typically associated with an increased risk of developing a blood clot. These clots are commonly formed when patients are bedridden or travelling on long airplane flights and can cause serious complications if they travel to the lungs.

To prevent this, regular ankle pumps should be done in order to stimulate the muscles of the lower legs (gastrocnemius and soleus).

This squeezing contracts the veins, helping push the blood back up to the heart and potentially reducing the risk of developing a deadly blood clot.

Active people are at less risk; however, when necessary precautions such as ankle pumps cannot be taken then everyone should remain aware of potential preventive measures.

When to Do Ankle Pumps

Undergoing ankle surgery can be a daunting experience, but preparing for the procedure with a daily program of ankle pumps can help ensure a smoother recovery.

Before beginning this exercise routine though, it is essential to check in with your doctor to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for you. Following approval from your doctor, make sure to do 20 ankle pumps twice every day, both before and after surgery.

Doing so can help restore muscle strength and flexibility while supporting recovery during the post-surgery period. Ultimately, proper preparation should make the transition back to activity easier.

It is important to keep your circulation going and make sure your ankles are feeling their best by doing ankle pumps throughout the day.

Ankle pumps involve raising and lowering your heels and toes alternately to promote movement of blood in the extremities. If you have a job or activity that keeps you on your feet for an extended period, it is especially important to complete ankle pumps once per hour.

This simple exercise can not only help prevent fatigue but can also provide relief if your ankles feel stiff and uncomfortable.

Take a small break from your activity regularly and do some ankle pumps it might just help get you through the rest of the day.

Prolonged bed rest can have serious health repercussions, particularly when it affects your circulation. When laying in bed for a long period of time, your blood may not circulate fully through your legs and feet.

To avoid this, it is important to do regular ankle pumps if you are unwell and unable to get out of bed. Doing these each day helps stimulate leg muscles and activates the movement of blood around the body, preventing lasting damage from poor circulation.

It is absolutely essential for those who have been immobile for an extended period of time to ensure their circulation does not suffer as a result.

Ankle pump exercise benefits

Ankle pumps are a simple yet powerful way to bring wellness to many people. Studies have shown significant results from both surgical and non-surgical patients in terms of improving blood circulation and alleviating pain.

Build Strength

Muscle loss due to inactivity is something that can occur rapidly and prove to be quite dangerous.

If muscles are not actively contracted, they can lose an average of 10-15% of their strength per week, which means that after just four weeks of bed rest for example, up to 50% of a person’s muscle strength could be gone.

Ankle pumps are a helpful way to decrease the rate of this muscle loss; this simple exercise works by contracting the calf muscles and helps prevent further muscle loss from occurring without requiring any equipment or much effort.

The danger in having this muscle weakness is far reaching, as it often leads to other detrimental effects such as an increased lack of motivation and further physical weakness causing more issues down the line.

Following an injury, it is important to stick with rehabilitating exercises and remember that regaining strength can take twice as long as the time you are unable to move.

Even when you feel like you’ve reached a plateau, there are measures such as basic ankle pumps that can help further your progress.

In order to ensure maximum benefits for your injury, use these simple exercises on a regular basis this will not only build muscle but also help keep circulation moving. Regular exercise using these methods can have you back on track in no time!

Build Confidence

After surgery or a period of immobility, your mental wellbeing is just as important if not more as your physical health.

Fortunately, ankle pumps are simple and small exercises that you can use to help manage anxiety and depression, provide distraction from pain or discomfort, and build the confidence you need to take charge of your own recovery.

With permission from a medical professional, ankle pumps can usually be started almost immediately after surgery and may help manage the physical symptoms associated with healing while providing an overall sense of control.

Doing regular ankle pumps will help strengthen both your physical and mental resilience as well as your confidence as you progress through rehabilitation.

Reduced Swelling

If you suffer from edema, ankle pumps are a great way to help manage your condition.

Essentially, this exercise raises and lowers the ankles in order to move excess fluid out of the body and reduce swelling it only takes about five minutes to do this simple activity.

Not only can it give immediate relief, but it is also beneficial in the long run when done regularly. Significant improvements in your condition can be seen with just a few weeks of committed ankle pumping exercises.

ankle pump exercise

Wake Up Your Ankles

Waking up with sore joints can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience, but there are steps you can take to ease the discomfort.

Before getting out of bed, one important habit is to do two sets of twenty ankle pumps for each ankle. This will awaken the muscles and increase your circulation, making it easier for your body to readjust.

Additionally, completing a set of ten quadriceps contractions and a set of ten glute contractions could further get your blood flowing and reduce joint pain upon waking.

Incorporating these simple steps into your morning routine can help make those first steps out of bed more comfortable.

Prevent Blood Clots

Deep vein thrombosis, more commonly known as blood clots, is an insidious condition that affects up to 900,000 Americans every year, and kills up to 100,000 people annually.

There are many risk factors associated with developing a deadly blood clot, with the most common being pregnancy, smoking habits and trauma.

Age (if over age 60) as well as medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol obesity , immobility , family history of blood clots , chronic inflammatory diseases , and high blood pressure can also put one at greater risk of developing a potentially fatal clot.

However, there are ways to reduce your chances of developing them including basic exercises like ankle pumping which can help break down the build-up of the dangerous clots.

It’s important to be aware of all the risks and therefore it is wise for individuals who believe they may be susceptible to engage in these preventative measures for a healthier life.

Increases Stability

Ankle pumping is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles around your ankles and enhance their stability.

It can also help to improve your ankle’s range of motion, which will provide you with a better ability to address unstable footing and faster recoveries from sprained ankles.

The beauty of ankle pumping is that it can be done even when your ankle is swollen, so long as you do not put any bodyweight on it.

Overall, these benefits make doing some daily ankle pumping beneficial for those seeking to improve their overall stability and mobility.

Tips For Ankle Pump Exercises

Ankle pumps are a simple but important exercise to maintain circulation and prevent complications.

When done consistently, the pumping action is even more effective in a hospital setting or during extended travel via air, where blood pooling can occur quickly, such frequent action can guard against serious problems that may otherwise develop within a very short timeline.

With regular use of ankle pumps, patients and passengers alike stand to benefit from improved circulatory health.

Ankle pumps are a simple exercise that can be done in order to help improve circulation, which is particularly beneficial for those who tend to stay inactive for long periods of time, such as the elderly or those with poor circulation.

By doing this exercise every 30- 60 minutes when inactive, it can help increase blood flow and prevent cramping and swelling in the lower leg muscles and feet.

To complete the full exercise correctly, it should be repeated around 20-40 times with more repetitions being the ideal amount if possible. This easy yet powerful exercise will ensure proper circulation throughout the body, keeping you feeling fit and healthy.

Incorporating the ankle pump exercise into one’s physical rehabilitation can be highly beneficial for building strength and improving stability.

When performing this exercise, it is important to adapt it based on your own level of ability if you are able to do the ankle pump in standing, progress by incorporating weights such as dumbbells or make the exercise more challenging by doing it on one foot.

It is advisable to start slowly and listen to your body gradually build up to more advanced levels as you get stronger and more experienced.

Ultimately, choosing the right level of progression will ensure optimum results with this powerful exercise.

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