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4 Exercises to Improve Irish Dance Ankle Strength & Mobility

Updated: Apr 13


Aesthetically, it is desirable for Irish dancers to have "twisty ankles" and to land jumps in relevé (on your toes). This puts a great deal of stress on a dancer's feet and ankles which are the two most common sites for injuries in Irish dancers.1 By using a variety of ankle stabilization and proprioceptive exercises, along with exercises to increase the ankle's range of motion and strength, dancers can prevent injuries, strengthen their feet and ankles, and increase the range of motion in their ankles.

Incorporate these four exercises into your daily routine today! Start with performing each exercise for 30 seconds 2 times a day.

1) ABCs

- stand on one foot

- with the other foot, write the alphabet with your toes (isolate your ankle - no leg movement)

*challenge - stand on an unstable surface like a folded towel or yoga mat

2) Windshield Wiper Taps

- stand on one foot

- with the other foot, isolate your ankle and tap your toes side to side like a windshield wiper (heel staying in the middle)

*challenge 1 - stand on an unstable surface like a folded towel or yoga mat

*challenge 2 - scrunch a towel in the toes of the front foot

3) Compass Taps

- stand on one foot

- pretend your standing foot is in the middle of a compass

- squat on the standing leg by bending the knee a few inches

- with control, tap your other foot to each direction on the compass (north, northeast, east, south east, etc - 8 taps total)

*challenge 1 - stand on an unstable surface like a folded towel or yoga mat

*challenge 2 - scrunch a towel in the toes of the front foot

4) Single Leg Balance with Eyes Closed

- stand on one foot

- close your eyes

*challenge - stand on an unstable surface like a folded towel or yoga mat

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1 Stein CJ, Tyson KD, Johnson VM, Popoli DM, d'Hemecourt PA, Michell LJ. Injuries in Irish dance. J Dance Med Sci. 2013 Dec;17(4):159-64.