Your feet need to adapt to the constant variables of the ground. Your ankles use dorsiflexion, or flexion toward the body, and plantar flexion, or extension away from the body, in order to adjust to the surface you are walking upon. A lack of plantar flexion can cause ankle instability which results in possible pain, decreased performance, change in walking gait and swelling. You can increase plantar flexion range of motion by implementing exercises focused on improving your ankle extension away from the body.
Perform a basic body weight plantar flexion exercise to strengthen your ankle. Face the back of a chair and hold onto it for balance. Stand up straight and place your feet flat on the ground. Raise on to your tiptoes as high as you can in a controlled fashion. Hold at the top for one second before slowly lowering yourself back toward the floor. Repeat this exercise for 8 to 15 repetitions with a minute rest. Perform two sets.
Increase the difficulty of the exercise by performing the same movement pattern by doing single leg heel lifts. Start with your right leg performing 8 to 15 repetitions before switching to your left leg for the same number of repetitions. Rest for one minute before you perform another set of 8 to 15 repetitions per leg.
Add resistance to your plantar flexion by using stretchable therapeutic leg bands. Sit on the floor. Position and loop the band on the bottom of one foot at the arch. Grab each end of the band with each hand. Point your toes away from your body as you hold onto the band creating resistance for your plantar flexion movement. Hold for one second in the plantar flexed state before slowly returning your ankle into a neutral position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on one leg before switching to the other. Repeat this exercise for two to three sets.