What does it mean if you have stiff ankles in the morning?

Stiff Ankles in the Morning

Pushing yourself too much in your afternoon jog. Tweaking an ankle while walking down the stairs. These are just some of the reasons that you might wake up in the morning with stiff ankles. Additionally, it’s not all that uncommon to have these types of symptoms in your ankle. In fact, medical research shows that up to 15% of adults suffer from ankle pain. 

However, stiffness and pain in your ankles in the morning can often be reduced by doing a few stretches. A physical therapist can show you how to do many stretches that can help improve ankle symptoms, and there are two ankle stretches in particular that your therapist may recommend adding to your morning routine. 

  1. Ankle circles

Ligaments, muscles and other structures in and around your ankle can easily become stiff and painful as you sleep, and you could wind up feeling these symptoms most when you first wake up in the morning. A stretching exercise that a physical therapist may recommend to reduce these symptoms is ankle circles. 

How to do the ankle circles exercise

  • Sit up as straight as possible on the edge of your bed. 
  • Lift your right leg up and cross it over your left thigh. Make sure your right ankle can move freely. 
  • Slowly turn your right ankle in clockwise circles. Try to complete eight to 10 circles. 
  • Then, move your right ankle in eight to 10 counterclockwise circles. 
  • Return your right foot to the floor. 
  • Repeat these steps to stretch your left ankle. Continue repeating them until you’ve done 20 to 30 circles in each direction with both ankles. 
  1. Standing Achilles tendon stretch

Tight Achilles tendons could be the reason you have stiff and painful ankles in the morning, but there are stretches that can help relieve tension in these tendons. One of these is the standing Achilles tendon stretch; your therapist may recommend doing this stretch before you go to bed and when you wake up to reduce your stiffness and pain. 

How to do the standing Achilles tendon stretch

  • Start by standing near a wall in your bedroom.
  • Place your hands on the wall at about eye level. This is intended to help you stay stable during the stretch. 
  • Step forward so that your right leg is slightly in front of your left leg. 
  • Bend your right knee and lean forward toward the wall until you feel a stretch in your left leg. Slightly bending your left leg will increase the stretch in the Achilles tendon. 
  • Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. 
  • Switch legs and repeat these steps to stretch your right leg.
  • Your goal should be to stretch each leg two to four times. 


Border Therapy Services can help you find other ways of treating morning ankle stiffness and pain

Are you looking for other treatments that can help reduce the ankle pain and stiffness you feel every morning? Our Border Therapy Services physical therapists are ready to assist you. We offer complimentary screenings that can pinpoint the cause of your ankle symptoms. With this cause in mind, our team can then build you an individualized treatment plan designed to reduce your symptoms. 

Don’t wait to start getting our help with your ankle problems. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule your complimentary screening.