If you’re a runner, even for a relatively short time, you can easily recall a time when you’ve strained, twisted, or even sprained your ankle on the run.
I’ve had my fair share of ankle sprains. They suck. That’s why a few years ago I decided to put an end to my recurring ankle pain nightmare. And after taking a few measures, I was able to drastically reduce my pain into a once in a blue moon thing.
One of these measures that I believe has helped a lot is strength training.
The logic behind it is simple. When the muscles surrounding your ankle s are weak, other joints in your body will suffer. But when they’re stronger, your lower body—not just your ankles—will be able to withstand a lot of impact before sustaining any injury.
Let’s delve a little bit deeper into this.
Ankle Sprains Demystified
When your foot twists beyond its healthy range of motion, the ligament attached to the ankle, foot, and leg overstretch or tear, resulting in pain.
Depending on the severity of the injury, it can take a few days—even months—to fully heal.
Ankle sprains account for about 40 percent of all athletic injuries, the American College of Sports Medicine revealed.
And according to surveys, roughly 70 percent of people who have had one, will have another shortly. Bad history repeats itself.
Strength Provides More Support
Whenever you’re running, you’re putting tremendous stress on your ankles and the surrounding muscles.
When these muscle structures are strong, your body will be able to withstand a greater impact before getting injured.
Fewer Overuse Injuries
As well as reducing the risks of ankle injuries, increasing strength your lower leg muscle can also help you prevent a litany of overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, and shin splints. What’s not to like.
Proprioception is the buzzword scientists use to refer to your body’s ability to ‘tell’ its position in space.
So, for instance, if you’re going into a position in which you could sprain your ankle, having an enhanced proprioception skill can reduce the risk by alerting you of the danger.
When you an improved awareness and balance, you’ll be to better your body and movement more effectively.
Increasing strength in the muscles surrounding your ankles helps provide stability and support to maintain your balance.
The Exercises You Need To Prevent Ankle Sprains
Your ankle joint is crossed by and surrounded by a bunch of muscles, these include:
- The Gastrocnemius,
- Posterior Tibialis,
- Flexor Hallucis Longus,
- Peroneal Longis and
To make the most out of strength work, you need to target these muscles in a few different ways. Each muscle plays a role in both moving your ankle and stabilizing the ankle joint.
There are many ways to strengthen your ankles, depending on your fitness level, your equipment, your comfort level, and of course, your training goals.
Here are the exercises you need to strengthen your ankles, improve your running form, and help you run faster and further with less fatigue and trouble.
Most of the exercises can be performed while sitting down can also be done while working or just watching TV.
1. Ankle Circles
Ankles circles will strengthen the muscle in and surrounding your ankle, improving the joint’s stability.
You can perform ankle circles from either a sitting or lying position.
Start by sitting on the floor with legs bent in front of you.
Next, raise your right foot off the ground and, while focusing the movement into your ankle joint, make big circles, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise.
2. Draw the Alphabet
Drawing the alphabet is as simple as A-B-C, no pun intended. This exercise involves drawing the letters of the alphabet with your ankle.
Drawing the letters forces your ankles to move through all planes of motion, including up-down, side to side, and rolling in and out as well as a mi of the motions together.
Simply sit on a chair, then while using your big toes as a writing instrument, spell out the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. Then repeat on the other side.
Raise your leg and draw the alphabet with your toes and as you flex your foot.
3. Standing Calf Raises
This is a class exercises for strengthening the calf muscles.
This is a great exercise to teaching your ankles how to have –and keep—control when your body shifts weight.
Begin by standing feet about hip-width apart. If possible, stand on the edge of a step or a bench. Feel free to use a banner to help keep your balance.
Next, shift your weight onto your toes, then slowly raise your heel off the floor (or bench).
Raise yourself as high as possible onto your toes and then lower your heel down.
To make it more challenging, perform the exercise with a dumbbell in each hand, or a barbell over the shoulder or on a single leg.
Keep your ankles in a neutral position to prevent them from rolling out.
4. Shin Raises
The muscles in the front of your lower legs are also super important while walking and running.
Just like calf raises, raise your toes instead of your heel off the floor on this one.
While keeping your heels on the floor, raise your toes upward as high as possible—this is what’s known as dorsiflexion. Then slowly lower your toes back toward the floor, but don’t let get to the ground.
5. Single Leg Balance
This is another great exercise for not only strengthening your ankles but the rest of your lower body too.
This exercise is also a staple in ankle injury rehabilitation programs.
While looking at a stationary object, stand on your right foot while keeping the left foot bent behind you. Then count till 16.
Changes sides and repeat the same count.
Stand on your right foot, bend your right knee slightly, and hold for the 20 to 30 seconds.
A good sign that your muscles are working is when your body starts to shake. Brace your core and focus on your ankle to minimize the shaking.
There you have it! If you’re serious about protecting your ankles from sprains and other ailments, make sure to add the exercises mentioned above in your strength training plan and keep doing them on a regular basis. The rest is just detail.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep Running Strong.