How do I strengthen my ankles?
Updated: Sep 9, 2020
The ankle is a very important complex, supporting your whole body weight through it with each footstep you take. Therefore it is no wonder that lateral ankle sprains are the most common injury in sport (Mitchell, et al. 2008) accounting for 10% of all reported sports injuries! As well as being a very commonly injured joint in sport, it is also a highly injured joint in the general population.
Injuries to the ankle, range from fractures of individual bones, ligament sprains, bone bruises and muscular strains (+ many more including nerve injuries, vascular injuries, cartilage injuries etc. etc.) The most commonly injured areas within the ankle are the ligaments located on the outside of the ankle that make up the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL). These can quite easily be injured if the ankle is "rolled". There is a good chance that you have done this at least once in your lifetime!
In contrast to this, if the ankle rolls inwards (pronation) with enough force, the deltoid ligaments (located on the inside of the ankle) can be sprained, A weakness in tibialis posterior and tibialis anterior (arch raising muscles) may also leave the ankle susceptible to this type of injury. Deltoid ligament sprains tend to be less common than lateral ankle sprains.
The third and final injury I'll be covering in this blog is Plantar fasciitis, with a reported 10% occurrence rate in runners (Chandler & Kibler. 1993); plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition and can be extremely painful! According to Bogla & Malone (2004), the foot must be balanced between pronation (low foot arch) and supination (high foot arch) to prevent the occurrence of the condition. Too much or little in either motion can lead to potential dysfunctions in the foot. What does all this mean?
You can prevent these three common ankle injuries just by working on a neutral foot position. The video below shows you a few simple exercises I have put together to get you started in your ankle strengthening pursuit of injury-free ankles. Give it a watch and reap the benefits!
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Bolgla, L. A., & Malone, T. R. (2004). 'Plantar Fasciitis and the Windlass Mechanism: A Biomechanical Link to Clinical Practice'. Journal of Athletic Training, 39(1), 77–82.
Chandler TJ, Kibler WB. (1993) 'A biomechanical approach to the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of plantar fasciitis'. Sports Med.;15:344–352
Mitchell A, Dyson R, Hale T, Abraham C. (2008) 'Biomechanics of ankle instability. Part 2: Postural sway- reaction time relationship'. Med. Sci Sports Exercise., 40:8, pp 1522-1528