Ankle injuries provide some of the worst pain out there. Those who have experienced them firsthand know where I’m coming from. A large portion of the population has extremely poor ankle mobility and stability. Unfortunately, many simply do not realize it because the symptoms aren’t where they think they should be.
It is important to understand that the entire lower body is connected in a sort of weird way. The ankles, knees, and hips all play off of each other to some extent. Ankle pain may not stem entirely from problems in the ankle. In fact, it is more likely a result of poor knee and/or poor hip mobility and/or stability. On the same note, knee pain is most likely due to the hip or ankle and hip pain is most likely due to the knee or ankle. These three joint systems are all connected and imbalance in one may lead to issues in another. Because of this scientific point, strengthening weak ankles should be a major priority for all athletes and lifters.
There are a number of options when it comes to strengthening weak ankles. You may work with the ankles themselves, or with the supporting joints. The best program incorporates both of these aspects. Learn how to tend to the ankles, knees, and hips by reading the following tips.
1) Examine the ankle. Assessment is always the first step. Perform both plantarflexion, or downward movement of the ankle and dorsiflexion, or upward movement of the ankle. This will allow you to judge ankle mobility.
2) Perform mobility exercises for the ankle. One of the most common is the rocking ankle mobilization. Get into a traditional push-up position. From this position, bring your ankles a bit closer to your hands. This will raise the butt up into the air. Cross one leg over the back of the opposite ankle. Allow that opposite ankle to come up from the ground onto the toes and then push it back down to the ground with the crossed-over leg. Repeat for sets of eight to twelve repetitions on each leg.
3) Utilize movements that stress the ankle. Squat, lunge and step-up variations are all great examples of this type of movement. In addition, any type of calf raise exercise may also be included.
4) Move on to the knees and hips. If it is determined from steps one, two, and three that ankle mobility is not the problem, proceed to these two joints. Unstable knees and hips are common in most sedentary individuals. Perform knee-intensive exercises such as squats, lunges, split squats, and step-ups. Each of these movement places a great deal of stress on the muscles and tendons surrounding the knees. For the hips, use exercises such as traditional deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, and glute-ham raises. As crazy as it sounds, strengthening the knees and hips will help to strengthen weak ankles and relieve some very unnecessary pain.
Strengthen your ankles by following this simple, step-by-step process and simple movements such as walking to your car in the morning and climbing two flights of stairs won’t be so dangerous.