6 Simple Exercises for Swollen Ankles

exercises for swollen ankles

Swollen ankles are a condition that can occur when the body does not correctly circulate fluids away from the extremities and peripheral regions. Even though this can occur in people of all ages, it tends to be more common in older adults, who experience swelling in the ankles and feet on a more frequent basis.

While having swollen ankles can cause discomfort and temporarily affect mobility, it can be managed and even prevented with appropriate exercises and activity levels. Alongside our extensive range of care options, Seasons Retirement encourages residents to engage in light to moderate physical activities and exercises to manage this health condition properly.

This article will provide insight into ankle swelling in older adults and how it can be managed with physical activity.

How Does Exercise Reduce Swelling in Ankles?

As earlier mentioned, swelling in the ankles occurs when excess fluid, pulled down by gravity, accumulates in the lower parts of the body. This usually happens when the circulation system cannot adequately circulate the fluids independently.

As a result, incorporating some exercises into a daily routine effectively treats ankle inflammation. There are even unique workouts specifically designed to reduce the swelling in your loved one’s ankles.

Exercises for swollen legs, also known as anti-gravity workouts, help pump excess fluid to the body’s center from the lower body. In the body’s center, the kidney processes extra fluids before being naturally passed out of the body.

Remember that since these exercises work by eliminating excess body fluid, your loved one is likely to visit the bathroom more often than usual when engaging in these workout routines.

6 Simple Exercises for Swollen Ankles

Before your loved one engages in these exercises for swollen ankles and feet, ensure that their doctor has provided their approval. Once they’re clear to try them out, the following exercise activities are proven workout routines to reduce swelling in the ankles.

1.    Ankle Pumps

Ankle pumps are one of the most popular exercises for swollen ankles. To engage in this workout, your loved one should follow these steps:

  • Lay down on the back and raise their feet.
  • Point their toes up and towards the head.
  • In another swift action, point the toes down and away from the head.
  • Repeat this action for each foot at least 30 times – 3 times daily.

t is highly recommended that your parents or grandparents practice this workout while lying down.

However, they can also follow these steps while seated. If your loved one wishes to do ankle pumps in their seat, they should try using a stool to elevate their feet.

2.    Squeezing the Glutes

On the surface, this exercise may not seem particularly effective, as you may wonder how the muscles in the buttocks can affect the areas around the ankles and feet.

However, squeezing the glutes is a good exercise to reduce leg swelling and promote circulation within the entire leg, including the ankles. For older adults, it’s best to perform this exercise while sitting or lying down. Then, they should follow these guidelines.

  • Start by tightening the buttock muscles, known as the glutes.
  • Hold this muscle contraction for a few seconds.
  • Relax the glutes for a few seconds, then repeat the action at least ten times – 3 times daily.

During these exercises, the participant should remember to breathe deeply and slowly to maintain proper oxygen and blood circulation levels.

3.    Single Knee Raises

To engage in this exercise for swollen ankles, ask your loved one to follow the steps below.

  • Lay down on the back.
  • Pull one knee up to the chest – as close as possible before you start feeling discomfort.
  • Return the leg to its resting position.

While carrying out this workout action on one leg, ensure that the other leg is resting to reduce the strain on the back.

Although there is no standard routine for this exercise, three times daily, ten repetitions for each leg should suffice. However, the number of reps can be altered at your loved one’s discretion.

4.    Foot Rocker

Foot Rocker, as the name suggests, is one of the exercises for swollen feet that directly targets the foot and ankle areas. It is similar to the ankle pumps, except it is performed while standing.

The following are the steps for performing the foot rocker exercise:

  • Stand flat on your feet.
  • Lean forward onto the balls of your feet.
  • Take a momentary pause.
  • Rock back to lean on the heel of your feet.
  • Repeat this action at least ten times, three times daily.

Encourage your loved one to put reasonable effort into the rocking action to sustain the back-and-forth movement of this exercise while being careful to maintain their balance.

5.    Resistance Band Exercise

This swollen-ankle exercise requires a resistance band, preferably a rubber therapy band. Here’s how to carry out this workout:

  • Use the rubber therapy band to hold your feet together, with your big toes touching.
  • Sit down with your legs stretched out while your hands hold the resistance band.
  • Pull the distal ends of your feet away from each other while your heels are still in contact.
  • Hold this posture for 5 seconds before letting go.
  • Repeat these steps at least ten times – 3 times daily.

6.    Tennis Ball Massage

Although the tennis ball massage is not necessarily an exercise for swollen feet, it contributes to the proper health of the feet and ankles by enhancing blood circulation to these parts of the body.

To perform the tennis ball massage, follow the steps below:

  • Stand upright or place your feet on the floor while sitting.
  • Put a tennis or lacrosse ball under the arch of your foot.
  • While applying slight pressure, roll the ball, from heel to toes, with the sole of your foot.
  • Continue this movement for 30 seconds.
  • Switch the ball to your other foot and repeat the workout.


Generally, exercises help keep the body in excellent shape and good physical condition. These exercises for swollen ankles directly reduce excess fluid and alleviate pressure on the joints.

Before your loved one engages in any of the above workout routines, you must ensure they don’t have any underlying medical conditions that might lead to complications. We recommend checking with their doctor for approval before taking part in these exercises.

Seasons Retirement has the resources available to assist residents with exercises for swollen ankles and legs. We’ve also provided a list of easy activities for older adults to improve their health and overall wellness. We’re dedicated to helping all our residents live their best lives and maintain their health and wellness.

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