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How to Strengthen Ankles

The ankle is probably the most common body part that people suffer injuries from. Ankle sprains and fractures happen all the time when playing sports. By strengthening the ankles, you will reduce the risk of injuries and increase your balance.

The ankle and feet are the last muscles that leave the ground when running and jumping. By increasing the strength of the ankle joint and the muscles around it, you will also see an increase in power output. Walking and manual chores will also naturally be less taxing.

Calve raises – This exercise will not only strengthen your calve muscles, they also strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle joint.

The most frequent functions of the ankle are dorsi flexion and plantar flexion. This simply means the movement of pointing your toes up and down. Calve raises simulate this movement and strengthen the muscles involved. This makes it a great exercise for ankle strength.

To execute a calve raise, place your feet on a ledge with your heels hanging in the air. Lower your heels while bending your ankles. You should feel a good stretch in your calves. Follow this by raising your heels as high as possible while contracting your calve muscles.

Ankle bounces – This exercise is a low intensity plyometric activity. Plyometrics teaches your muscles how to store elastic energy and take shock impacts better. This will reduce the risk of injuries from poor landing when jumping and running.

The ankle bounce simulates the dorsi and plantar flexion like the calve raises. The only difference is that ankle bounces stimulates the central nervous system and teaches you how to land safely when jumping and running.

To execute an ankle bounce, attempt to jump up with just your ankles. You probably can’t do it and needed some knee flexion to kick start the jump. When you land from the jump, absorb the impact with just your ankles. The key to this exercise is to land and jump as quickly as possible using only your ankles.

Weight training – Training with weights can also strengthen the ankle by strengthening the soft tissues (muscle, tendon, and ligament). Heavy weights will increase tendon and ligament strength by using several techniques from weightlifting.

Heavy squats in its full range of motion will have a significant effect in strengthening the ankle’s tendon, ligament and muscle. Doing slow negatives with weights more than you can normally handle will also strengthen the tendon and ligaments.

Negative involves doing only doing the eccentric part of the movement extremely slowly with a very heavy weight. Since negatives can only increase strength of the tendons and ligaments in the prime mover of the movement, you can only use calve raises to target the tendons and ligaments in the ankle.

Another weightlifting technique to strengthen tendons and ligaments is isometrics. Isometrics is the holding of a movement on either the middle or top of the exercise. To target the ankles, hold a heavy barbell and complete a calve raise. Hold the calve raise at the top of the movement for as long as 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Strengthening the ankles will allow you to perform activities and exercise without the constant worry of injuring them. Put in some time to train them every other day and be surprised at how much strong ankles can do for you.

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