Monday, 6 March 2017

Ankle Strengthening

Wibble wobble
Wibble wobble
Jelly on a plate

Sprained ankles lurk around every corner, particularly for fell runners and orienteers who are maladapted to pavements and other flat surfaces. Other potential victims include beginners and road specialists heading out to the countryside for some spring air. And of course if you’ve sprained an ankle before then you likely to be more vulnerable.

Thankfully ankles are an area where the research is clear, albeit from other sports - ankle exercises reduce the incidence of sprains and re-injury.

Start by emulating a flamingo and stand on one leg.


Technique is important. Keep you foot and leg relaxed but stable, not rigid and fixed. Try to feel strong through the core and glute. Hold onto something to stabilise if you need to.

As confidence grows start moving your arms and your other leg - anything that throws you off balance.

Increase the difficulty by finding an unstable surface, using a wobble cushion or even a pillow, bed or sofa.

Other options include jumps and hops where you land on one leg and stabilise, and standing on tip toes on one leg which builds control when your on your fore-foot/mid-foot.

Technique, again

The options are endless. What is important is how you do the exercises. You need to be relaxed, stable and strong - not just wobbling all over the place.

Example program

Here are a set of exercises, to build your own program. Choose two from the static set and one from the dynamic set.

Try to practice them two to three times a week.

Your chosen exercise should be ‘just’ manageable with a focus on good technique. If it is too easy  you won’t be challenging and improving your balance. If it is too hard you won’t be able to master it.

If you find an exercise too hard start by holding onto something and progress by reducing the amount of support you use.

The static set
Choose two. Spend two minutes working on each one in sets of five to six repetitions with a short break between.

Standing 1 leg:

Star taps:

Run on one leg:

One leg stand to calf raise:

One leg stand wobble cushion:

One leg stand rotation (very challenging!):

The dynamic set
Choose one. Do up to ten repetitions and repeat three times.

Lateral hops:

Hops to wobble cushion:

Back lunge to hop forward:

Photos and videos taken in Fairplay Sport Personal Training studio, below our practice:

Why not practice with friends?

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