We would usually never give a second thought to the complex ankle joints within their feet, unless we have had an injury or condition affecting the ankle. The ankle’s job however, is critical to standing, walking and running. While the ankle consists of three bones, the tibia, fibula, and the talus, it also directly articulates with the foot, which contains an intricate network of bones and joints. Every day, your ankles carry a tremendous stress load, balancing your weight, creating leverage that allows you to step, as well as providing cushioning for movements.
Exercising and caring for your ankles can help you keep them in top form. As with any exercise, be sure to talk to your health care provider before starting any form of conditioning program. Additionally, if you encounter any pain, stop immediately.
Exercises to Help Condition Your Ankles:
Single Leg Good Mornings – This is a simple, all around ankle exercise that does not require equipment. Start by bending forward while standing on one leg, making sure to maintain the natural position of your spine. Straighten back up to your original position. As simple as it sounds, it can prove to be a challenge if your ankles are weak. Try to do 15 reps, or simply keep going until you feel fatigued.
Balancing Disk – Using a balance disk or wobble cushion (a round inflatable disk, strong enough to sit or stand on while creating an unstable surface), can help you strengthen your ankles. Make sure to properly brace yourself in order to avoid injury, then try balancing yourself on one foot as long as you can. Repeat up to five times for optimum results.
Resisted Eversion with A Band – Fix the band to something sturdy and close to the ground on the inside of your foot. Wrap the other end of the band around your foot. Pull your foot out, to create tension in the band, and then rotate the foot so the sole is facing out. Slowly return to your original position. Repeated ten times is a set. Three sets will provide maximum results.
Single Leg Medicine Ball Toss – For this you will need a partner and a medicine ball. Square off with your partner, and then toss the medicine ball back and forth maintaining balance on one leg. To make it a bit more challenging, try balancing on a foam pad. Try five rounds of sixty second bursts.