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  • Writer's pictureCoach Matt Pippin

Unveiling the Secrets: 2 Lesser-Known Exercises to Soothe Ankle Pain

2 exercises to relieve ankle pain

Is there anything worse than a tight, painful ankle? I’ve been dealing with this lately and it ruins everything. It hurts to walk, run, play sports, lift weights, and don’t even get me started on how awful it feels when you first put your feet on the floor in the morning. Enough is enough. It’s time to make your ankles a priority with two simple, yet powerful mobility exercises that will provide the much-needed relief you deserve.


Our ankles play a pivotal role in everyday movements, yet their health often goes overlooked. Ankle pain is caused by having a lack of strength and mobility in the ankle joint, but more specifically, in the amount of range of motion you have in inversion and eversion, (think the rotation of the foot).

What Is Ankle Inversion?

Inversion is rolling the ankle so the bottom of your foot is pointed in towards the body. If you’ve ever sprained your ankle, you’ve experienced a nasty case of inversion.

What is ankle inversion?

What Is Ankle Eversion?

Eversion is the ankle moving so the bottom of the foot is pointed away from the body. This motion is not all that common, but is possibly the most important move the ankle must be able to make.

What is ankle eversion?


There are a variety of ankle pain symptoms that you might be experiencing, ranging from:

  • Pain or discomfort in the achilles cord

  • Pain in the arches of the foot

  • Pain on both the inside and outside of the ankle bones

  • Pain running up the calves

For me, I’ve been dealing with pain where my achilles meets my heal (on the inside and outside).


Another nasty condition that can be associated with ankle pain is plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the fascia along the bottom of the foot. If you have terrible ankle mobility, plantar fasciitis can be on the horizon for you and unfortunately, takes quite a while to get rid of.

Hip pain is another common repercussion of ankle pain. This happens when your ankle feels jacked up, so of course you start changing your gait to make it feel a little better. This causes some strange patterns up stream and the next thing you know, you have a hip issue.


The first thing that most people do when they have ankle pain is to stretch it with the classic hands on the wall, your back leg straight, pulling your heel down to the floor. This is not a bad stretch by any means, but it most definitely will not fix your ankle pain.

Another strategy people use when dealing with ankle pain is slapping on a good old ankle brace. You know the ones, you slide your foot through it and lace it up as tight as humanly possible. This sounds great in theory making your ankle all stiff and rigid. But guess what happens once you take that thing off… you now have a weak immobile ankle that is a ticking time bomb ready to go off. Ever noticed how employees at Home Depot no longer wear back braces? Think of braces as a set of crutches or a cane. If your body starts to rely on an outside structure for support, all the muscles will no longer be stimulated and start to weaken.


Walking can a be a valuable tool in rehabbing the ankle. However, if the ankle doesn’t loosen up and/or become more comfortable after walking for 10-15 minutes, it may be time to lay off of this a little bit. If this is the case, a great alternative would be hopping on a bike so you can promote movement of the ankle without causing any irritation. This is my personal favorite way to get movement in and my ankle usually feels a whole lot better after I get off of it.


We now know that ankle pain is caused by poor mobility and strength in the ankle, and more specifically, in inversion and eversion. It’s time to get super creative and place our ankles in these two positions and start getting to work. We’re going to use a strategy called PAILs and RAILs to open up new ranges of motion and get stronger in those areas. These are two exercises that I personally have been doing a couple of times a week and I’ve seen significant improvement in my ankle discomfort.

Equipment Needed

For both of these exercises, you will need these slant boards to help you put your ankle in those inversion and eversion positions. I like these because they're durable, not expensive and they do what we need them to do.


There are 2 simple exercises you can start doing now, to help relieve ankle pain. They include ankle inversion PAILs and RAILs and ankle eversion PAILs and RAILs. Keep reading for follow-along instruction.

Ankle Inversion PAILs and RAILs

First up, we're going to work on ankle inversion (think a rolled ankle position). The goal of this is to strengthen all the tissues on the outside of the ankle. If you’ve ever rolled an ankle, these tissues will be a mess because no one ever goes to physical therapy for that injury. Here's how we'll do this exercise in the video below:

  • Find and hold the stretch for two minutes

  • Do two rounds of each isometrics for 20 seconds

  • After both isometrics sit back into the original stretch for another two minutes

Follow along with me in the video and really just try and “feel” the tissues you’re trying to fire up.

Ankle Eversion PAILs and RAILs

Next, we'll work on strengthening ankle eversion (opposite of a rolled ankle). You will most likely be very stiff and immobile in this position. This means we have more gains awaiting us!!! We'll follow the same sequence here:

  • Find and hold the stretch for two minutes

  • Do two rounds of each isometrics for 20 seconds

  • After both isometrics sit back into the original stretch for another two minutes

Feeling the tissues will be way more challenging during this setup, so be patient and really connect.


When starting both exercises, it’s important to keep in mind that not only do the isometrics have be low intensity, but the stretch must be as well. Stretching is a form of stimulus, and if pushed too hard, you’ll end up doing more harm than good.

For both exercises I would suggest starting out with 2 times per week, and do them on separate days. This will give your ankle the appropriate amount of stimulus. Doing both on the same day may be a little too much for it to handle.

I would also strongly suggest doing these right before a workout. This essentially sets the stage for the ankle to be running at max efficiency during exercise. If the time doesn’t allow it, just make sure you’re getting them in consistently.

And lastly, be patient with the process. Ankles take a beating because they don't get any "off days." But if you incorporate the exercises above, you will start to notice change and that pain or discomfort will slowly decrease.


For my favorite mobility exercises to bulletproof your body, click the link below where you can get my 3 must-have mobility moves for free. Once you try them, you’ll see why they’re my all-time favorite.

* I am an Amazon Associate and earn from qualifying purchases with some of the links on this blog.



Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.


  • NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

  • Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist

  • Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach

  • Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)

  • Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor

  • Weck Method Qualified


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