Do you sometimes wonder whether you’re just born with weak ankles? It might very well be, but this could also be a sign of an underlying condition and it doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever.
Where does it come from?
Weakness in ankles may be due to:
- Hypermobility or lack of stability in joints
- Bone conditions such as osteoarthritis
- Lack of strength in surrounding muscle groups – which can even be gluteal muscles
- Incorrect footwear including poor cushioning or protection
- Being overweight - which also stressed more your joints
What are the risks of weak ankles?
If you have weak ankles, you may have experienced one of the following:
- Sore ankles and feet
- Regular ankle sprains, fractures or even dislocations
- Balance problems
- Ankles often twisting outward when walking
- Difficulty in keeping ankles straight in heels
What about sports and fitness?
Regardless of whether you are experiencing weak ankles, some specific sports are very demanding on ankles and might require you to strengthen them. When running, your feet absorb nearly three times your bodyweight; which is a lot of strain for your ligaments, joints and body, let alone your ankles – very close to the impact point. If you run on trails, soft ground can absorb more impact, which will ultimately provoke less damage to your joints. However, uneven surface requires stronger ankles to maintain stability and balance.
Skating sports such as figure skating, speed skating and hockey also require a lot of one-leg balance, challenging more ankle strength. At last, some sports require athletes to change directions suddenly, engaging a lot of ankle mobility and strength. This means soccer, football or rugby might require extra sessions at the gym.
How to strengthen ankles?
The first tip our experts recommend lies on staying passive. If you’ve recently been injured, it is important not to come back too quickly to exercise and make sure to be back on the right track before ramping up intensity. Don’t rush too quickly to complete a marathon race, or to train in one of your favourite HIIT classes. If you also tend to spend a lot of time on feet, make sure to take regular breaks to allow your ankles to rest every so often.
If you know the injury persists or is quite serious, do not hesitate to consult a GP or a health professional. As small and as insignificant it might seem, asking for help to a professional will always help you in the longer term, rather than hiding weaknesses under the carpet – you know they will eventually come back to the surface.
If you are aware that your weight might be difficult to bear for your ankles, try losing some weight and see if it feels better. Of course, we would recommend reaching out to a professional so that you get the best structure and that you stay safe in your weight loss journey.
A small win is also to properly warm up and cool down before each workout. It will ensure that you avoid any brutal impact to your ankles. You can try simple ankle circles (one way and then the other) and warming up properly too the rest of your body to anticipate muscle imbalances.
If you’ve been wearing inappropriate foot support, you do not have to throw away your pair of shoes just yet – this would not be very environmentally-friendly. Instead try out wearing supportive running or walking insoles. At Enertor, our insoles use the PX1 technology to absorb up to 89% shocks and reduce the impact to your feet, knees and hips.
Our experts recommend…
Regardless of which solutions you try, we will still recommend that you perform a regular set of exercises in order to bulletproof your ankles. A few minutes a day can go a long way after a couple of weeks, even months. Our experts particularly recommend:
- Calf raises (hip feet-width apart, lift up your heels high and stand on your toes; hold up a couple of seconds and come back down slowly)
- Alphabet drawings (try drawing each letter of the alphabet with your feet)
- Heel or toe walk (stand on your heels or your toes and walk for about 10 meters)
- Single-leg exercises (you might already be doing a S&C routine. Think about performing more single-leg exercises like deadlifts, pistol squats, lunges or use the BOSU ball to challenge your balance)