As you become fitter and stronger, one area we tend to forget (or lack the time to train) is the ankle complex. If we don’t, it falls behind the others and may eventually result in injury. But most ankle injuries can be avoided with some smart strengthening work that does not take a lot of time to do. Warm-up with some mobility drills, strengthen during your workout and finally stretch at the end.
Strengthening is aided by the vast amount of single-leg work we do at Top Coach. If your ankles are weak, then add more of these to your workouts. The following drills are ideal to progress to if your ankles are weak.
This move will strengthen the muscles in and around your ankle, improving the joint’s stability. Sit on a chair and extend your right leg, knee straight. Move your right foot clockwise 20 times, rest your leg for 5 seconds, and raise it again and move your foot anti-clockwise for the same number of reps. Alternate legs, doing 2 to 3 sets per side.
Write the Alphabet
Tracing out the alphabet with your big toe is a challenging strength exercise for your ankle. Seated in a chair, hold your right leg straight out in front. Using your big toe as the “pen,” write the alphabet in all capital letters first, then repeat the process with lower case letters; switch feet and repeat.
“Round the Clock” drill.
Pretend (Or draw) you are in the middle of an imaginary circular clock. Then stand on one leg. Use the opposite foot to reach in and out to go around the clock numbers with your big toe. Touch the number, then the ankle you are standing on. Try to reach out further each time, placing pressure on the ankles from all different planes of motion. Then change legs and repeat. Progress to doing this on a cushion or pad as pictured above.
The peroneal tendons run along the outside of the ankle, and they’re crucial for strength and support. Gently roll onto the outside of your feet and walk around for 60 seconds. This helps with flexibility and strength, also improves proprioception—awareness of where your ankle is and what it’s doing—which can help prevent ankle sprains. Progress these to doing standing Hip Swings & Hamstring mobilisers without any support.
Make sure your calves are strong. All bets are off if you have weak calves, so work on those calf raisers! (Next week’s article).
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