Stay active, even with stiff ankles

Exercise and stretch daily to keep ankles flexible.

Ankle stiffness can do a number on your mobility. It can make it difficult to remain active or even get out of bed in the morning and walk across the room. "Motion restriction usually occurs more in the upward than downward direction, so it becomes harder to walk uphill, wear flat shoes, or keep feet pointed straight ahead," says Dr. Christopher DiGiovanni, chief of foot and ankle surgery at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

A tricky joint

The ankle is a vulnerable structure. It's made of the ends of the lower leg bones (the tibia and fibula), which hold the talus bone of the foot in between them. The joint is stabilized by ligaments and powered by muscles that work in concert to enable ankle and foot motion and accommodate uneven surfaces when you stand or walk.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »