ENHANCING YOUR COMPETITVE EDGE:
Ankle stability exercises for injury prevention and strength
Gina Pongetti, MPT, MA, CSCS, ART-cert
Sports Biomechanics Specialist
Sports Medicine Program Director/ Owner
The ankle of any person may be the most important tool in activities of daily living, sport, and performance. You use your ankles when running, walking up stairs, working out, on the field, in the gym, everywhere! You use them ALWAYS. Making sure they are strong and stable is essential to injury prevention and offers a strong foundation for activities.
Many people spend thousand of hours practicing a specific play, move, or stunt but neglect to focus on their feet and ankle each practice or training session. Unless you have had an ankle injury, many do not realize how weak or unstable ankles can affect you. Let’s learn from aspects of sprain and injury rehabilitation, and use this knowledge for prevention, strengthening, and enhancing your competitive edge!
1. Standing balance: Standing on one foot, see how long you can hold your balance. Now, increase the difficulty by adding motion, closing your eyes or moving your head up and down and side to side. You can also try standing on uneven surfaces, such as a pillow or couch cushion.
2. Gingerbreads: Stand on one foot with your feet forward. Lean sideways, keeping an “X” shape. Try to control the speed and focus on not losing your balance. This works the ankle, abs, and gluteal muscles, as well as balance.
3. Balance and Twist: Standing on one foot, lift your opposite leg into the air. Hold your hands out in front of you to make your hips and legs do all of the work. Next, rotate your body to open your hips away from your standing leg. Lastly, using your core, hip, and ankle muscles, rotate back toward your standing leg, and even past neutral. You will feel this in your hip muscles.
4. Teeter Totters: Standing on one foot, pick up your opposite leg. Lean your chest down and the same time so that your leg rises in the back, similar to a lever.
5. Calf Strength : Start in a back squat. Staying in the squat position, rise to your toes using your calf muscles. We use the calves to push mostly in bent positions. Let’s strengthen them the practical way!
Now that you have focused on strengthening your calf, the inside and outside ankle muscles, the little muscles of the foot, and adding motion to make each exercise practical, make sure you stretch out your calves and ankles!