As a surfer, the contact between your feet and your board is one of the most crucial aspects of wave riding. Your feet and ankles are put under constant pressure as you continually jump up and lean into turns, and if you have any sort of imbalances going on, then injuries are almost a certainty. The most common ankle issue we see on surfers is Ankle Hypomobility (or stiffness).

This problem is characterised by difficulty getting low on the board, lack of power when carving and discomfort when trying to pop up and turn big in the pocket or off the lip. It is most often caused by an old ankle injury, such as a rolled ankle, that has never healed properly.

But don’t wig out!

Here’s three exercises that will improve mobility and strengthen your ankles and help make sure that you avoid ankle injuries when out on the water.

Primitive Squat, side on
Primitive Squat, front on.

Exercise 1: Primitive Squat (Photos 1 and 2 above)

Stand in a wide squat stance with feet turned outwards and squat down so that you are in the deepest position you can be. Make sure to hold the arches of your feet up and not allow your ankle to collapse in. Keep your back straight, elbows on the inside of your thighs and try and hold this position for a minute.


Duck walk, side on


Duck walk, front on.

 Exercise 2: Duck Walking (Photos 3 and 4 above)

Carrying on from the primitive squat, stay in your deep squat stance and then travel forward in that position, like a duck.


Lunges, aren’t just excellent for your ankles, they’ll improve and strengthen your legs and core too

Exercise 3: Lunges (Photo 5, above)

Lunges are a great way to work on stability and mobility of the ankles. Make this harder by putting your front foot on an unstable surface, such as a bosu ball.


Cara-Lee Goullée is a Senior Physio at Stoke Physio in North Beach. Hit her up on her contact details below if you need further advice!

Cover Photo: Mikey Wright giving his ankles a work out / pic: E. Smith