Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained during exercise or sport and can take a long time to heal. If you are an avid exerciser, then it is important to make sure that you are taking the necessary precautions to protect your ankles. In this blog post, we will discuss some ways to support your ankles during exercise and how to strengthen them so that they are less likely to get injured. We will also discuss the importance of wearing good supportive footwear when working out!
Your ankles are a complex joint
Ankles are made up of bones, ligaments, and tendons. These structures work together to provide stability and allow for a wide range of motion. However, this joint is also very susceptible to injury. Ankle sprains are the most common type of ankle injury and occur when the ligaments that support the joint are stretched or torn. This can happen if you roll your ankle while walking or running, land awkwardly after a jump, or twist your foot in an unnatural way. Ankle fractures are another common type of ankle injury. Usually, they occur when there is a direct blow to the bone.
There are several ways that you can support your ankles during exercise to prevent injuries.
Strengthening your ankles
One of the best ways to prevent ankle injuries is to ensure your ankle muscles are strong. This will help to stabilise the joint and make it less likely to roll or twist. There are several exercises that you can do to strengthen your ankles, such as:
-Double leg calf raises: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly rise onto your toes. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds before lowering back down. However, do not let your heel touch the ground. Do ten repetitions of this exercise 3 times.
-Heel raise holds: Place your hands on a wall or chair for balance. On one leg, raise up onto your toes to your maximum height. Hold this position for 30-40 seconds before lowering back down. Do this 3-4 times, depending on your strength or pain levels.
-Ankle alphabet: Write the alphabet with your big toe, making sure to keep your heel on the ground.
Once you are able to achieve the double leg calf raises and the heel raise holds comfortably, progress to complete these on a single leg. Be sure to exercise both sides equally, not just your weaker or injured side.
Proprioception is another important aspect of ankle stability. Proprioception is the ability to sense where your body is in space and to make adjustments accordingly. Ankle proprioception exercises help to improve your balance and coordination. They can be done using a wobble board or balance disc. There are a number of proprioceptive exercises that you can do, such as:
-Single leg balance: Stand on one leg with your eyes closed and maintain your balance for 30 seconds.
– Ankle rolls: Sit on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Roll your Ankles 10 times in each direction.
– Ankle hops: Stand on one leg and jump up and down ten times.
You should also make sure to stretch your ankles before and after exercise. A simple ankle stretch can be done by standing on one leg and grabbing your foot with the opposite hand. Gently pull your foot towards you, holding the stretch for a few seconds.
Wearing an ankle brace
If you have had an ankle injury in the past, or are particularly prone to them, then wearing a brace can be a good way to support your ankles during exercise. Ankle braces work by limiting the joint’s range of motion, decreasing the likelihood of it being sprained or fractured. There are a variety of ankle braces available, so it is important to choose one that is comfortable and gives you the level of support you need. We can help you choose the right one for you. Have a chat with one of our OSSEM team.
Wearing supportive footwear
Another way to prevent ankle injuries is to make sure that you are wearing the proper footwear when exercising. Wearing the correct style of footwear for your chosen activity and individual foot posture is vital in creating a stable base of support during exercise.
A general rule of thumb is to ensure the overall fit is correct. A wider, stable-based shoe will provide you with more stability and better foot-to-ground contact.
We recommend booking an appointment with your local podiatrist to assess your feet and recommend shoes fit for purpose.
Have ongoing pain assessed
You should always seek professional advice if you have an ankle injury and are unsure how to recover. Some ankle injuries can be more serious than they first appear, and it is important to get the proper treatment to avoid further damage. Ankle pain that does not go away with home treatment or worsens over time may signify a more serious problem. If you are experiencing ankle pain, we recommend booking an appointment with us via our friendly reception team.