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Does Cycling Strengthen Ankles? 11 Key Facts

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Ankle strength affects a lot more bodily functions than you think. From supporting your body weight to maintaining your balance, ankle strength is at work when we do most of our daily activities.

That’s why you have to consider your ankles whenever you exercise. But the question is, does cycling strengthen ankles?

Cycling strengthens ankle muscles and ligaments. It helps with blood flow around your ankles and lubricates the joint.

Cycling is actually really healthy for ankles, so much so that there are a full list of benefits.

In this post, I’ll take a look at 11 facts about cycling in relation to your ankles.

does cycling strengthen ankles

11 Facts About How Cycling Strengthens Your Ankles

If you need more motivation to get on that bike, I’ll give you 11. Here are some known facts about how cycling strengthens your ankles:

1. Cycling Helps Strengthen Your Ankle Muscles and Ligaments

Cycling is a full workout for your lower body, from your hips down to your ankles. The more you get used to the pedal motion, the more you can increase the difficulty, leading to strong and toned muscles.

Since your ankles are also in constant movement while pedaling, their ligaments become more sturdy and flexible. This lessens the risk of you getting injuries in your ankles.

You can’t go wrong with adding cycling to your daily exercise routine. It improves all your lower body functions and strengthens its muscles without stressing your joints.

On top of that, you can easily tweak the difficulty of cycling when it gets too easy. That will give your lower body extremities more room to develop.

2. Cycling Forces You to Stretch Your Ankles

It’s always a good idea to warm up and stretch your ankles before a cycling session. Otherwise, you might risk an injury, severe muscle pain, or cramps since your muscles are too stiff.

You can try the following foot and ankle stretches to improve your strength and stability while cycling:

Stretch/ExerciseHow Long or How Many Reps
Single leg balance30 seconds per leg for three to five reps
Ankle rotation30 to 60 seconds per ankle
Calf raisesHold for 30 seconds with at least 10 reps
Calf wall stretch30 seconds per ankle
Standing quad stretchHold for 20 to 30 seconds with at least three to five reps per leg

If you’re looking for more ankle-strengthening exercises, then I found the following fantastic Youtube video from Doctor Jo, which has some great and simple suggestions:

The action of cycling also gently stretches the muscles and ligaments around the ankle. It is a gentle, rolling movement of the ankle which massages the area.

3. Cycling Is Effective at Reducing Foot Edema

Foot edema refers to the swelling of feet, ankles, and legs due to excess fluid stuck in their tissues.

Once you have it, you’ll notice your ankles starting to look puffy, and the skin around it may appear stretched, shiny, and discolored.

Common causes of foot edema include:

  • Consuming excessively salty food
  • Being overweight
  • Sitting or standing still for too long
  • Insect bites
  • Blood clots

If you’re struggling with foot edema, many physios recommend riding a bike or using a stationary bike. (Source) Go for a slow and steady pace to get the groove back in your ankles.

Since cycling utilizes your entire lower body, it stimulates blood flow throughout your ankles, effectively reducing swelling. It also decreases the risk of getting foot edema.

4. Cycling Is a Good Low-Impact Exercise for Your Lower Body

Most stationary aerobic exercises tend to be moderate to high-impact, causing extra strain on your body.

You might want to consider cycling when you need a good workout that won’t put too much pressure on your joints and muscles.

Believe it or not, jumping jacks are more high-impact than riding a bike. This is because exercises like jumping jacks require you to move both feet off the ground at the same time.

I’m not trying to put you off other types of cardio!

But certainly, anyone that has had ankle issues in the past could do with switching things up a little by adding cycling to their routine. Any exercise that keeps both feet in contact with the surface is great for ankle health.

After all, it has a low impact on your legs and ankles, given that you’re doing it in proper form.

You can also increase the intensity as you please by riding uphills or elevating your pedal cadence.

5. Cycling Stimulates Blood Flow Throughout Your Legs

If you have poor blood circulation, you might start feeling numbness or pain in certain parts of your body.

While it can affect your whole body, the main targets of bad circulation are your toes, feet, legs, fingers, and hands.

Poor blood circulation is often caused by the following:

  • Obesity
  • Heart diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Too much caffeine

These are all factors that constrict your blood vessels, which disrupts natural blood flow. As a result, your ankles may become more prone to spider and varicose veins.

Varicose veins can cause many problems for your ankles or other affected areas, including burning sensations and muscle cramps.

Cycling has proven to be an effective exercise to increase the blood flow in your legs. Not only does this help relieve pain, but it also prevents varicose veins.

6. Cycling Helps Improve Balance and Proprioception

This is kind of obvious – but anyone who has tried to ride a bike knows that you have to keep your balance throughout to prevent yourself from tipping over. Since you constantly maintain that balance, you improve your body’s muscular awareness while in motion.

What’s more is that cycling is also a good proprioception activity, engaging your hands, arms, legs, and ankles to create a consistent movement.

This gives your body a great sense of position and movement, which develops more when you ride a bike.

Balance and proprioception go hand in hand to make accurate movements with minimal effort.

Since pedaling is the chief motion required for cycling, the proprioceptors found in your ankle’s joints are constantly engaged to send impulses to your brain.

To sum it up, cycling enhances your ankle’s balance and proprioception abilities.

7. Cycling Lubricates the Joints in Your Ankles

Whenever you ride a bike, your legs and ankles are engaged in constant motion through pedaling. Not only does this put the muscles of your legs and ankles to work but also your ankle’s joints.

The reason why cycling is good for the joints is that it encourages the production of synovial fluid. This fluid is responsible for lubricating joints by acting as a cushion for your bones, reducing friction whenever your joints move.

If you’re looking for strong ankles, you must start with the joints. Healthy joints mean better movement.

8. Cycling Improves Your Ankle Mobility

Endurance sports or activities like cycling do many wonders for your whole body’s overall strength. One of the best ways you can keep up with these physical activities is by increasing your ankle’s mobility.

Ankles play a vital role in supporting your core and maintaining balance. Therefore, the more you train your ankles, the better your capabilities are in doing various endurance workouts.

With the help of cycling, you get to focus on training your ankle’s range of motion through dorsiflexion (toes toward the shin) and plantar flexion (pointing your toes).

Trust me. It will greatly benefit you in other physical activities that use your ankles for mobility.

9. Cycling Is One of the Best Sports for Rehabilitating Weak Ankles

When you have weak ankles, you have a higher risk of getting sprains and developing poor balance. This can result from an unhealthy lifestyle and the wear and tear your ankles experience due to daily activities.

Common symptoms of weak ankles include the following:

  • Frequent injuries
  • Ankle pain
  • Issues with maintaining balance
  • Outward rolling or twisting of ankles while walking
  • Inability to walk straight in heels

With that said, cycling is one of the best exercises that help rehabilitate weak ankles. Pedaling improves your ankle’s range of motion and strengthens its muscles without putting too much weight on it.

Pair this with some ankle exercises to support your ankle strengthening better.

If you’re sprained or injured your ankle, then alongside cycling you could try some of the exercises demonstrated in this video from Rehab Science:

10. You Can Wear Ankle Weights to Boost the Effectiveness of Cycling With Minimal Risks

Since cycling is such an effective workout, you can further increase its effectiveness without bearing too many risks. For instance, you can strengthen your ankles better by adding some ankle weights.

Normally, your ankles shoulder your body’s weight, but in cycling, it doesn’t have to. Hence, you can raise the intensity of such aerobic exercise without straining your ankles.

The more your ankles get used to this kind of training, the further you improve their strength and mobility.

11. Cycling Helps Your Ankle Recover From a Sprain

Getting your ankle sprained is always a hassle, as it can last anywhere between two to six weeks. The good news is that cycling can help accelerate your sprained ankle’s healing process.

Although it sounds like a bad idea to work your ankles in such a manner during sprains, it actually has more benefits than you think.

Cycling has one of the lowest impacts compared to other sports and activities. For this reason, doctors recommend stationary bikes to help you recover from sprains faster.

Since it also increases the blood flow in your ankles, you can also effectively decrease their swelling.

Final Thoughts

Your ankles play a bigger role in your everyday life than you realize.

If you don’t want to end up with weak ankles or chronic ankle instability, now might be the time to try cycling. The results can be life-changing with minimal risks.