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Suggested ankle exercises?


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So since I was a kid, I've always had really weak ankles and they tend to roll in, so I have sprained my ankles numerous times. I've been told to do certain exercises like lifting up my calves on my toes and then another one was balancing on one leg for 2 minutes, each, with my eyes closed. The balancing one seems to work, and it helped my friend keep his ankles from rolling in after a couple weeks, but I'm just wondering if there are any other suggestions or if others have had the same problem?

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Calf raises seem like a good idea, as do squats, lunges, and even planks and downward dogs. There's an exercise I did when I was strengthening my feet for barefoot/minimalist running that might help - extend your foot in front of you, weight on the ball of your foot, and then do 10 circles with your foot, both directions.

Start slow, work barefoot, and do the same routine for your ankle every day until you have some strength in the ankle. Then you could start doing weighted calf raises 3x a week.

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A good way is to work in some agility type drills into your warmups. They are a great way to warmup and have all sorts of other benefits beyond strengthening your ankles. You can pickup agility ladders for pretty cheap and there are all sorts of solid videos out there detailing all the ways to use them.

 

The other thing you can do (stifle the laughs people) is do unstable surface work. I don't like the big half bosu balls so much but they sell smaller ones you put under each foot and do things like air squats and hops to help teach your brain to stabilize. Balance boards also help but are generally more expensive. Again,  these are great for warmups. We do unstable work a lot with hockey players because they often have this lazy ankle problem.

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Calf raises seem like a good idea, as do squats, lunges, and even planks and downward dogs. There's an exercise I did when I was strengthening my feet for barefoot/minimalist running that might help - extend your foot in front of you, weight on the ball of your foot, and then do 10 circles with your foot, both directions.

Start slow, work barefoot, and do the same routine for your ankle every day until you have some strength in the ankle. Then you could start doing weighted calf raises 3x a week.

I did not know planks could help! I tend to do lots of squats, lunges and planks almost every other day, so hopefully that'll keep it up too.. but I've decided to reserve more time to just focusing on the ankles because they're starting to hurt every day, and it's normally when I rotate it. So.. the weighted ankle rotation sounds like it would help, I'm definitely going to try that... All I've got are 3lbs weights so I'll start out with those. Thanks! :)

 

 

A good way is to work in some agility type drills into your warmups. They are a great way to warmup and have all sorts of other benefits beyond strengthening your ankles. You can pickup agility ladders for pretty cheap and there are all sorts of solid videos out there detailing all the ways to use them.

 

The other thing you can do (stifle the laughs people) is do unstable surface work. I don't like the big half bosu balls so much but they sell smaller ones you put under each foot and do things like air squats and hops to help teach your brain to stabilize. Balance boards also help but are generally more expensive. Again,  these are great for warmups. We do unstable work a lot with hockey players because they often have this lazy ankle problem.

Okay, just checked out some agility ladder exercises on youtube.. definitely doable. I'll have to go grab one sometime next week! The smaller bosu balls are a good idea too! I may go for those after a couple weeks of just doing the regular body weight exercises though. For stabalizing, the balancing on one foot with the eyes closed seems to work the rolling ankles a lot... THAT's probably hilarious for anyone watching haha, and it's hard as hell to keep balance, but apparently it does teach the brain to locate your ankle and trains it to keep it from rolling.. so seems like the same idea.

Also would you guys recommend ankle braces/wraps? I'd probably just wear them when I do martial arts, and again, I have a friend who also uses them and says the brace will hold/catch the ankle if it rolls.. but I'm wondering how true that is. :P

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I did not know planks could help! I tend to do lots of squats, lunges and planks almost every other day, so hopefully that'll keep it up too.. but I've decided to reserve more time to just focusing on the ankles because they're starting to hurt every day, and it's normally when I rotate it. So.. the weighted ankle rotation sounds like it would help, I'm definitely going to try that... All I've got are 3lbs weights so I'll start out with those. Thanks! :)

Not weighted ankle rotations. Put your body weight forward on your toes.

 

And I'd only wear the wraps if you absolutely need to. But that may be a question for your doctor, not us.

HALF-OGRE
Level 3 Ranger / Level 1 Sexy Grandpa

Str: 10.75 Dex: 11 Sta: 9.25 Con: 7.5 Wis: 6.75 Cha: 5.75

"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right nowâ€. ― Zig Ziglar

Introduction
Current 6 week challenge
My workout log


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Also would you guys recommend ankle braces/wraps? I'd probably just wear them when I do martial arts, and again, I have a friend who also uses them and says the brace will hold/catch the ankle if it rolls.. but I'm wondering how true that is. :tongue:

 

As yet another individual with weak ankles, I feel I can solidly recommend you only use ankle wraps when you're more likely to roll your ankle due to increased pace and more complex movement - as you said, martial arts. Dance could be another situation where you can use a wrap to help prevent sprains/strains, or at least lessen the severity of injury; also most sports involving running and turning at high speeds, such as soccer or football. But the wrap itself is a support only: it's not going to help strengthen anything.

 

Weak ankles need both exercise and flexibility training. Exercise will help strengthen the muscles attached to the tendons (which is what you generally injure on an ankle sprain/strain), which will help prevent rolling your ankle; and flexibility training will increase the range of motion your ankle can handle, thereby lessening the degree of any injuries you may incur.

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Not weighted ankle rotations. Put your body weight forward on your toes.

 

And I'd only wear the wraps if you absolutely need to. But that may be a question for your doctor, not us.

OH! I misread that. I got it now.. and that's a lot easier haha. Thanks!

And doctor is really the last resort. They're not so bad that I need to, but I'm just researching ways to improve on my own.

 

 

My parents have one of these foam pads.  I play on it sometimes, and it is quite a workout (granted it is likely beneath you, but I'm enjoying it).

Hehe, those look fun to work out on actually, but if I can do the exercises without equipment, I prefer to do that! ... again though... the pad kind of seems cool.

 

 

As yet another individual with weak ankles, I feel I can solidly recommend you only use ankle wraps when you're more likely to roll your ankle due to increased pace and more complex movement - as you said, martial arts. Dance could be another situation where you can use a wrap to help prevent sprains/strains, or at least lessen the severity of injury; also most sports involving running and turning at high speeds, such as soccer or football. But the wrap itself is a support only: it's not going to help strengthen anything.

 

Weak ankles need both exercise and flexibility training. Exercise will help strengthen the muscles attached to the tendons (which is what you generally injure on an ankle sprain/strain), which will help prevent rolling your ankle; and flexibility training will increase the range of motion your ankle can handle, thereby lessening the degree of any injuries you may incur.

Thanks! Yeah, that would really be the only time I would wear them. And the extra support would be welcome until I can get them strengthened. Wearing shoes that lack support has helped a little in getting there, but I still have problems with them at some point, so when running I've started going back to the better running shoes that I have. Flexibility training I can do :) I've slacked off on all the ankle exercises since Monday but hoping to incorporate all of these suggestions a little bit throughout the next couple weeks within my challenge exercises... Thanks for all the help!

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One thing I've found that has really helped my ankle/foot strength is using barefoot shoes during my strength workouts. I didn't have particularly weak ankles to start with, so you might not want to jump right into, say, FiveFingers, but using the most minimal shoe you can without excessive risk of injury could be useful, and work your way up to a barefoot shoe as you get stronger. I will say that, if you're interested in FiveFingers, they're amazing but take a bit of getting used to. My feet feel so much stronger and stable since I've started using them, but at first I could only wear them for an hour or two before my feet started to cramp up. Now I could wear them all day long with no problem.

 

You can simulate the balance pad thing by doing your 'standing on one leg with eyes closed' thing on a pillow or folded up towel or blanket. The thicker, the harder, I think. 

 

I agree with the using the ankle wraps only when necessary, the more you do with unsupported feet/ankles, they more the muscles will have to work to keep you stable. I also agree with the asking a doctor/physiotherapist to be certain about when it's necessary or not, though not all doctors and physiotherapists are created equal, so listen to your body too. Even just walking around barefoot (or in barefoot shoes) as much as possible will help.

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