How To Do Ankle Taps Properly

Ankle taps are a low-impact ab exercise that you do by lying down on the floor and reaching out to tap your ankles with your hands.

Steps:

  • Start by lying on the floor or a mat, facing up.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Your lower back should be pressed to the ground.
  • Lift your shoulders a few inches off the ground and tighten your core.
  • Tuck your chin in a bit as if you’re holding a tennis ball or spoon between your chest and chin.
  • Lean slightly to your left side and tap your left ankle with the left hand.
  • Immediately after, tap the right ankle with your right hand.
  • Keep tapping your ankles alternately until you complete your desired number of reps.

WHAT MUSCLES DO ANKLE TAPS WORK?

ABDOMINAL MUSCLES

The rectus abdominis on your upper abdomen is the muscle most associated with a toned six-pack.

It plays a role in stabilizing your internal organs.

The other abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis, also helps stabilize your spine.

When your core is tight, you squeeze and activate the muscle fibres of the two abdominals, which helps tone and strengthen them.

OBLIQUES

Your obliques are located at the side of your abdomen and their function is to rotate your torso and protect your spine.

By twisting your upper body as you reach out to tap your ankles, you recruit these muscles too.

LOWER BACK

The lower back houses the quadratus lumborum, a deep ab muscle which also helps move your upper body during this exercise.

BENEFITS OF ANKLE TAPS

TONES YOUR CORE

Want toned and defined abs? Core exercises like ankle taps can get you there.

Although shedding abdominal fat requires aerobic activity, core exercises like this movement strengthen and tone the underlying muscles to help develop lean muscle.

DOESN’T REQUIRE FITNESS EQUIPMENT

As you’ve probably already noticed, you do not need any fitness equipment to do ankle taps. You may require a mat for extra comfort, but even that is optional.

SUPPORTS BETTER POSTURE

Most people unintentionally ruin their posture by slouching or leaning forward especially when they sit down for long hours.

This can lead to musculoskeletal disorders on your shoulders, neck, back or any other upper body area that is connected to your spine.

Ankle taps will help you strengthen and stabilize these parts of your body to improve both your standing and sitting postures.

IMPROVES STABILITY

General body stability enables you to complete your daily tasks independently and easily.

Exercises that strengthen your core and lower back also help improve your stability to make these activities easier for you.

HELPS PREVENT OR REDUCE BACK AND HIP PAIN

Although working out may be the very last thing on your mind when you’re experiencing chronic pain, research argues that core training can help relieve you of it.

There are many causes of hip and back pain, but a weak core is one of the most common culprits.

Strengthening your core and back through such movements as ankle taps can help alleviate some of your chronic pain, with very minimal intensity.

SUPPORTS GOOD RUNNING FORM

One of the many perks of having a stable core is that it helps you maintain solid form when you are running.

Stronger core muscles allow your hips, lower back and pelvis to work together smoothly and protect the muscles involves from injury or strain.

IMPROVES STRENGTH TRAINING ABILITY

A strong and solid core provides the foundation for an effective strength training workout.

It makes it easier for you to lift more weight without hurting your back or ruining your form, since your upper body is stable enough to withstand external load.

ALTERNATIVES TO ANKLE TAPS

SIDE CRUNCH

The side crunch, also known as the oblique crunch, is an equally effective way of strengthening your entire core with particular focus on the oblique muscles.

Like ankle taps, it requires no equipment to perform; you can easily practice it at home if you are unable to access a gym.

To perform a side crunch:

  • Lie on a mat or on the floor, face up with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
  • Then, lie on one side so that one leg is stacked over the other.
  • Tighten your core.
  • Place the hand on the upper side behind your head and the other on the floor to provide support.
  • Move your torso upwards to squeeze the oblique on the upper side by performing a side bend.
  • Pause for a second before slowly lowering to complete the rep.
  • Repeat as many times as you want then switch to the other side.

ANKLE TAPS MISTAKES TO AVOID

NOT TIGHTENING YOUR CORE

Being a core movement, this exercise requires that you keep your core tight to activate the muscles in there.

Draw your belly button in towards your spine or tuck your pelvis in at the starting position to help with this.

ARCHING YOUR LOWER BACK

Remember only your upper back should come off the ground; your lower back has no business moving out of place as you tap your ankles.

RUSHING THROUGH THE REPS

Often when an exercise requires slow motions people tend to find it difficult and try to complete the reps quickly to finish it faster.

However, that is one of the biggest ab training mistakes you can make; the discomfort that comes from firing up your muscles is the whole reason for the workout.

For maximum benefit, all your motions should be slow and controlled so that you put your core muscles under tension for as long as you can.

And if you are having trouble slowing down your reps, you can set a specific time goal to make sure you maximize the time under tension (TUT) of your muscles.

WRAPPING UP

Are you looking to tone your abs? Or improve your posture? Or maybe just stabilize your spine to prevent back pain?

Whatever your fitness goals are, ankle taps can help you get there.

See, your core plays a role in almost every single movement you perform, whether in the upper or lower body.

So a proper core workout is essential for forming a solid foundation to work your muscles.