Exercises To Strengthen Your Ankles

Exercises-To-Strengthen-Your-Ankles

As runners, especially trail runners, we must ensure our body is well prepared to negotiate with the wavy terrain, whether dry, muddy, wet or slippery.

Twisted ankles are very common and can put you off training. Indeed if you do your mileage off road your ankles – joints, muscles, tendons – will adapt and get stronger eventually. But what if you twist or sprain your ankle before they get strong enough?

I have to say I very seldom twist my ankles and I don’t remember ever spraining my ankles. The odd twist happens in obstacle course races where I run over tractor tires prints on dry ground or running through rivers over big, slippery rocks. And even then I recover fast.

Thus today I’d like to share with you how we, at The Merisoiu Technique Institute, train and condition our bodies, specifically ankles in this case, to be prepared for the unexpected on the trails.
 
1. Ride the terrain

Too often I see runners forcing themselves “into” the terrain instead of allowing the terrain to take them where it wants and then making small adjustments to keep moving in the desired direction.

Stop fighting the terrain, move with it, flow with it rather than going against it.

2. Strengthen your ankles 

The topic of this article. There are countless methods and exercises that help you to strengthen your ankles. Right now I will share with you a few simple ankle strengthening exercises which you can do not only as part of your scheduled training but anytime you wait in line, for a bus or brush your teeth.

a. Balance on one leg. That’s it, just stand on one leg. Please be aware of your surroundings so that if you lose your balance you don’t fall and injure yourself, have enough free space around you.

b. Balance with variations – The Clock. This means something like our very well known exercise The Clock in the video below. It’s excellent for ankle strength but also for strengthening stability muscles in the knees and hips and stabilising the hip joint, when done correctly. Here is a video with coaching tips.

Again please be aware of your surroundings so that if you lose your balance you don’t fall and injure yourself, have enough free space around you.

 

c. Balance with variations – 360 Degrees. Another slow movement balance exercise is the 350 Degrees. Again this will also strengthen stability muscles within other joints as well as the ankles.

d.  Walk on tip toes. Classic but effective.

e. Walk barefoot on uneven terrain.

You should have guessed this was coming! Walking barefoot will activate dormant muscles in your feet and ankles which, in regular shoes, are so well supported they don’t do much work so they weaken. Take your shoes and socks off, go out in the garden, walk around and balance observing how your foot and ankles muscles move and twitch, they’re working out.

Any exercise you choose do them regularly to get results. You don’t need to spend hours doing this. It’s most effective when you do a little everyday over a long period of time. Balancing while brushing their teeth seems to be my clients’ favourite, just take care not to fall and injure yourself.

The Limping To Leaping 4 weeks is a course for runners who want to run with less effort and fewer injuries, it introduces you to the running mechanics of natural running technique. If you wish more information email alexandra@alexandramerisoiu.com or fill in this form and I will reply within 2 business days.

By they way, have you checked out Dracula’s Retreat?

Factors Leading To Running Injuries – Change

Does running regularly mean you will end up having to pay physios for life? No, not necessarily. Although, like with virtually any sport, even swimming if you swim often and aim high, you will suffer some injuries. How bad, how often and for how long, now these are variables that can be changed.

Change is one of the causes of sport related injuries. And when we talk about running injuries we refer to:

– foot injuries – including plantar fasciitis
– ankle injuries
– shin splints
– knee injuries
– hip injuries
– lower back pain

These are very common injuries and pains in runners who run regularly and push themselves to make progress.

Change is one of the elements that can cause there types of running injuries. Change in terms of:

– speed
– distance
– running frequency, but also
– different shoes (watch out minimalist/barefoot runners when transitioning to minimalist shoes), and different technique
– training type – i.e. from endurance training to interval training

No matter how much you try to progress fast, you are directed by your NERVOUS SYSTM. Until the nervous system adapts to the change, any attempt to push beyond it’s adaptation time frame can lead to injuries.

Thus, my advice on any changes you wish to make:
– make change slow
– have patience
– make the correct changes
– make the changes correct
– get a coach to direct you so you do things the right way, especially if you are a beginner

Need coaching? Email support@themtechnique.com or click here to book a free consultation.

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What Is The Correct Body Alignment

Alignment there, alignment here, I talk a lot about body alignment. And for good reason.

I was looking at my 8 year old nieces when I took them ice skating. It was their first time on the ice and they were simply naturals. They kept their balance so well, and naturally knew how to move their feet. I don’t know why I was there. Adults, on the other hand, had problems keeping their feet under their bodies. They learn but it takes longer, and their are very unbalanced.

Looking at them I see the correct body alignment. Natural for the kids, un-natural for the adults. We are born with all sorts of abilities, however, when we start sitting more than moving, and stop moving muscles, joints, body awareness goes into “hibernation”. Through Natural Human Movement we wake up those muscles and help the body remember it’s natural abilities, moving the body the way it was designed to move.

 

Why is correct body alignment important

 

Firstly, many of the pains, even chronic pains, are a result of habitual movements over a longer period of time, as well as other factors. Now, we don’t talk about health conditions or fractures, for example. Rather lower back pain, knee pain, ankle pain, shoulder pain.

Constant tension and body misuse, over a period of time, can lead to chronic pain

Second, running, walking, or moving in any way with an incorrect alignment can increase risks of injuries, and perpetuate older injuries.

Third, incorrect body alignment can strain certain muscles, and weaken others.

Fourth, strained muscles will affect your posture and your skeletal system, it can literally deform your skeleton; it may not be visible but it happens, think scoliosis, one of the most obvious situations of incorrect body alignment.

 

How to align your body correctly 

In an article I can only give you the basics of correct body alignment. However, if you apply these elements to everything you do it will make a huge different in time.

Whether you are running, squatting, standing or walking remember the following points:

  1. Feet – roughly hip width apart, toes facing forward
  2. The Tripod – each of your feet form a tripod with the big toe + little toe + heel; focus on keeping this tripod on the ground at all times
  3. Soft knees – not necessarily bent, but soft; it’s very subtle
  4. Bucket of water – imagine your hips like a bucket of water; align your hips so you don’t spill water forwards or backwards
  5. Core – if your hip, the bucket of water, is aligned then your core (you will feel it in the abdominal muscles) will be slightly contracted
  6. Shoulders and years are aligned
  7. Straight line from your ears to your shoulders to your hips to (approximately) the front of the ankles 

 

These are the basics in a standing position. If you have any questions on body alignment or want to try one of The Merisoiu Technique sessions contact me.