Do you often get sore ankles? Do you get sprains regularly? Weak ankles don't have to be a permanent condition. Understand how you can strengthen them and avoid them happening again in this latest blog.
Single leg exercises are a fantastic way to both strengthen your ankles and improve your balancing skills. Start with some single-leg balances: stand up, lift a knee to a 90-degree angle and hold for 30 seconds. Don't forget about switching to the other leg and repeat this a couple of times. If you feel like you're wobbling, find a still point in front of you to look at and focus on.
If you'd like to progress this exercise, you can add a kettlebell into the mix! Take it into one hand, and while a leg stays lifted off the ground, make a half-circle around your body to take it with your other hand and finish the full circle around your body. Repeat this circle 10 to 12 times before switching sides, and repeat this 2 to 3 sets. Still too easy? apply more load, the heavier, the better!
This exercise might feel very easy but believe us, it is nonetheless effective. It will engage your balance and will also build muscles in your feet. Position yourself at the end of a 20-meter walk. Shift your weight onto your heels and lift your toenails off the ground. Walk slowly these 20 meters and make sure that you always stop at each step and engage just a single leg. Once you've done these 20 meters, turn back and this time, shift your weight to your toes and lift your heels. Walk the same way and make sure to maintain heels lifted, go one step by one step. At the end of your walk, hold the posture for 10 seconds, lift your heels high and rest.
Walking lunges are a very efficient exercise for runners. They will engage your ankles but are also used to fire up your quads and glutes. Put one step forward and lower to get both knees to a 90-degree angle. The back knee dips down to the ground but should stay lifted to continue engaging your balance. To make sure you get the most out of this exercise, hold for 5 seconds and step the back leg in front of the first leg to reverse the movement.
For additional difficulty, think about always standing on a single leg instead of standing on two before stepping out. You can also take a pair of dumbbells which will increase resistance.
Deadlifts are known to be a secret weapon to get stronger hamstrings, but adding in instability, it will target your ankles and feet too. Stand up on your feet, and while you keep your legs straight (but not locked), bend the waist. Lower your torso to a 90-degree angle to the ground and one of your legs straight back; ideally, you'd like the posture to look like the letter T. Hold for 5 seconds and lift yourself back up while squeezing your glutes and pressing your standing-leg heel onto the floor.
It can be very easy not to maintain perfect form here as you might feel it engages your hamstring flexibility - which is often lacking in runners. The main pointers are to keep your back straight, look at the floor to create this long line parallel to the floor, and make sure your hips face the floor too.
Up for a little challenge? When you go back up, don't rest your leg but lift it high to a 90-degree angle. It will challenge you even more about your balance. You can also be creative and add in some weights (although these might provide more balance than staying with body weight).
Standing calf raises
If you're a runner or cyclist, you may be very familiar with calf raises but these can also be beneficent for anyone spending a significant time up on their feet, or who wants to stop spiraling down repeated ankle sprains.
How do you do them properly? Stand feet hip-width apart, ideally at the edge of a step. You can hold a wall or a rail to stay balanced. Raise your heels, hold for a few seconds and lower them down. You can also try lifting one leg at a time to increase the weight put on your calf.
There are plenty of ways to strengthen your ankles, and weak ankles do not have to be a fatality. However, if the pain remains, we recommend that you reach out for further help. Podiatrists will be able to provide more insights on what could be the root cause, how you can improve the situation, and maybe wear the right shoes.
You should also think about wearing insoles, which will provide more support and comfort to your feet and ankles. From our experience here at Enertor, insoles have been proven to reduce impact and avoid injuries - even in the British Army and very active professions.