Strategies for Strengthening Your Ankles
Ankle problems are a big issue in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that 23,000 men, women, and kids in the country will seek out medical care for their sprained ankles each day. This doesn’t count all of the people who may experience pain or even a sprain, but decide not to go in because they don’t think it is worth the time.
If your ankles are already struggling because of aging, past injuries to the area, or even genetics, it is easy to have trouble with them just by walking around. Ankles that are weak and unstable can lead to sprains and even falls that result in a big injury. Since your ankles are so important, you need to find ways to make them stronger to carry you around.
It is important to take the time to work on your ankles and make them stronger to ensure that they can carry you through life and that you won’t end up with a big injury along the way again. Some of the strategies that you can choose include:
Exercising the Ligament is One of the Best Strategies for Strengthening Your Ankles
One of the first things that you can do to help out your ankles is to strengthen the ligaments, doing so in as many directions as possible. The ligaments in that part of the body will be there to provide stabilization so that the ankle can be mobile in lots of directions while being strong in all of them as well.
Your ankle joint is going to be highly mobile and can go in a ton of different directions, which means that you need to have lots of flexibility and strength in the ligaments to make sure they can adjust and move around, no matter the pressure that you decide to put on them.
There are several exercises that you are able to do to help provide some additional strength to the ankle. Start by looping a resistance band around the foot and then attach the other loop to a stable object. Flex the foot forward, backward, and sideways. Do this 15 times on each leg, building up to doing three sets on each leg a day.
For prevention, you can do this 3 to 4 times a week to make the ankle stronger. If you already have a sprain in your ankle, you can talk to your physical therapist to see what they would recommend.
Retrain Your Nerves to Strengthening Ankles
The nerves that are in your ankle joint are important because they can help sense when there are changes to the surface you walk on, your gait, and even your balance. They will then help out the tendons and the ligaments when it is time to make those adjustments so you can keep on walking without a problem.
However, when you have ankles that are pretty unstable to start with or you sprain the ankle, then. Your nerves may struggle a bit to keep the ankle as steady as you would like. Damaged nerves, which are a side effect of a sprained ankle, are going to make it more likely that you will have a sprain again in the future, for example,
Instead of being able to finely adjust to each step that you take while helping you with your balance, the nerves that are now damaged can cause the ankle to wobble sometimes and even roll. You need to take the time to retrain some of the nerves of the ankle when you have a sprain to help avoid this and keep you balanced.
One exercise to do is a one-legged balance. While you stand on just one of your legs, you will slowly move your arms up, out, and to the sides. If you find that you don’t have the stability to do this, then use the wall for stability until you can build up a bit more. Once you can do 20 repetitions of this on each leg, then you can make it a challenge with less stable surfaces.
Another option is to increase your strength and mobility by using your toes to draw out the alphabet. You can do this by lying on your back with your foot flexed and in the air. Use your toes to trace all of the letters of the alphabet and then switch around to do the other side. This is a great one if you can’t put a lot of pressure on the ankles yet.
Strong Muscles Are Needed for Stable Ankles
Strong muscles are going to be important if you would like to keep the ankles stable. You need strong muscles to go all the way up the leg to provide some of this support. Your calves though will be the most important when it is time to prevent ankle rolls and twists too. The good news is there are a lot of great exercises that you can consider to make the legs stronger.
Lunges with the front foot on an unstable surface are a good place to start, just make sure that you are good with balance so that you do not fall forward and have an injury happen with that. A pillow or a Bosu ball is going to be a good option to help with this,
Another option is to do some calf raises for your strength. You will do this by standing in front of a wall, keeping the feet hip-width apart. Lift yourself up so that you are on flat toes (do not go as high as a ballerina). Hold this for as many seconds as you can and then lower the heels. Repeat ten times to help with strength.
Working with a Podiatrist or Specialist to Strengthening Ankles
For those who have severe issues in the ankles or a genetic predisposition to problems and are worried they will have a major injury to their ankles, it may be a good idea to spend some time with a podiatrist to see what they are able to recommend. They can do an exam with you, learn more about your medical history, and help you come up with a treatment plan.
Your podiatrist will examine the ankle, taking time to look for contributors to your weak ankles. Imaging is often done to see whether there is a sprain, a strain, or even a hairline fracture that you need to work on. The podiatrist will often do a gait examination and watch your movements to see if alignment could be a factor as well.
Choosing the Right Custom Orthotic?
Based on the results of this, you can work with your podiatrist to come up with an effective and customized treatment plan for the ankles and the whole foot. You may need to use a custom orthotic, a brace, or even medication to help during this time. These are great insoles, with no doctor markups, to use to protect your feet and keep them strong without pain or injuries for years to come.
Take our free analysis to help determine what type of orthotics will be best for you. When you are ready to see whether custom orthotics are the right solution for you, give us a call or leave your information so we can get you started on your journey to healthier feet, and a happier life.