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 firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in this form and I will reply within 2 business days.
By they way, have you checked out Dracula’s Retreat?