“I have always had bad ankles”
“I roll my ankle all the time”
“I just have to wear an ankle brace every time I play”
As an athlete, these are things I hear every single day from teammates and other people I am competing with. The question is why do people settle for having “bad” or “weak ankles”. Ankle sprains happen. They do. You can step without seeing seeing a hole in the ground, you can step on a dog toy, slip off a curb, accidents happen. That being said, your ankle stability is comprised of a series of muscles and ligaments running from the lower leg down to the foot paired with your proprioceptive ability to determine and unconsciously control your ankle. Just like any other joint, any other injury, this can be improved upon and risk for recurrant sprains reduced to optimize your performance.
You spend hours each week in the gym or at practice to become stronger, faster, more agile, and increase their endurance. So if you know there is a weakness in your chain, why not focus on improving that. You are only as strong as your weakest point, and if your ankles are weak, or prone to rolling, well that is a big problem seeing as it is impossible to walk without using your ankle. Don’t waste all of your time to perfect your craft, just to have it all taken away for weeks at a time due to ankle dysfunction and a very preventable sprain. Each time you “roll” your ankle it gets worse and you are more likely to repeat… UNLESS you take the right steps to correct the problem.
While I would recommend going to see a movement professional if your ankles often give you problems, here are some simple exercises to start that are low risk and high reward and easily completed in your own home.
- Single Leg Balance
- Goal of 1 minute without support
- Close eyes or stand on a pillow to increase difficulty
- Single Leg Cone Arc Tap
- Place 3-4 cones in an arc in front of you
- Maintain balance on one foot while you tap each cone
- Place cones further away or stand on pillow to increase difficulty
- Lateral Leaps with focused landing
- Must completely balance on single leg in landing
- Only leap as far as can control landing
- Increase leap distance or land on pillow to increase difficulty
- Calf Roll and Stretch
- Roll Calf out first to focus on any restrictions
- Follow with 3 x 45 second stretches on a wall or stair
These are not the only ankle exercises in the world, but a good place to start if you have a history of ankle issues. DO NOT do anything you are uncomfortable or have significant pain with when it comes to new exercises without consulting with a professional.
I am always happy to answer any other questions or concerns you may have with regards to your ankle pain or problems. Find me on facebook @odysseyperformancept or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org