- May 26, 2017 at 7:29 pm #3470043
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I have a trip this summer where I will be doing a lot of off trail sidehilling and want to make sure my ankles are up to the task. I don’t really have the ability to simulate the all day walking at an angle, but am looking for exercises that I can do that will strengthen my ankles. I do have a theraband (blue, I think) if that helps.May 26, 2017 at 8:21 pm #3470057
Ken T.BPL Member
Give yourself some extra room in the beginning, lol.May 26, 2017 at 8:53 pm #3470063
Walking barefoot on sand if that is an option. I have had unstable ankles after spraining them repeatedly and the best by far has been trail running. My ankles are better than they have been in over ten years.May 26, 2017 at 8:55 pm #3470064
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
PT said to use stationary bike
more for knee and hip but also ankleMay 26, 2017 at 9:04 pm #3470068
Michael RayBPL Member
I go up and down the steepest hill in the city which happens to be at a park. The moles seem to love it so it provides unstable ground.May 28, 2017 at 9:04 pm #3470285
Joe LynchBPL Member
@rushfanLocale: Northern California
A simple exercise I did in my soccer playing days was to stand with one foot an inch above the ground. With your toe, draw the letters of the alphabet. We stopped at J. Repeat with the other foot once a day.May 28, 2017 at 10:13 pm #3470295
Diane PinkersBPL Member
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
Check out Jen Mitol’s blog backpackerpt.com. She hasn’t updated it in quite a while, but her article on knee pain has great exercises that I have used to help my ankles as well. An e-mail conversation with her years ago about my ankles sent me to those exercises; she said the issue wasn’t really that my ankles were weak, as my lateral stabilization core muscles in my hips were not stabilizing well with the added weight of a pack. I had several spills on trails in my early days where my right ankle would suddenly buckle to the outside, and over I’d go. Haven’t had a problem in years doing that.May 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm #3470296May 29, 2017 at 10:30 am #3470325
Edward BartonBPL Member
Trail running has been great for ankle strength for me. There’s a lot of lateral movement, especially on more rooty/rock strewn trails. Fell running and running that includes some sidehilling could also help, though you probably want to ease into that/go slow.May 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm #3470412
Sam CBPL Member
Find a flight of stairs; walk up on your “toes”, then back down in a normal manner. Repeat until you reach the point that, when about half-way up, you really feel it (and I mean really feel it). Continue up then stop for the day. Try to do this for at least three times per week.
An alternative, and similar to what Joe mentions above, is to simply stand straight and tall, then, with feet, lift yourself up and stand on your toes. You don’t have to hold in the up position or anything, just go up and down, up and down.May 29, 2017 at 8:39 pm #3470416
Ben CBPL Member
+1 on Jen’s exercises. They have helped me a lot with ankle stabilityJun 10, 2017 at 6:43 pm #3472695
Terry SparksBPL Member
@firebugLocale: Santa Barbara County Coast
I agree with Ken T. get yourself a wobble board.
They are cheap enough, $20.00 or so, and instead of sitting on the sofa to watch TV, stand on the wobble board. I had surgery on both feet in January and needed to strengthen my feet and started using a wobble board every day. I found that it strengthened my feet, ankles, calves, lower and upper back. But I also found it worked my core to a surprising level of strength. After three weeks of using it, I improved from holding a set of three, one minute planks to doing a set of five three minute planks, with continuing improvement. The added foot, ankle and calf strength has also translated to the trial quite well and, with the added balance I have, I’m a stronger hiker from it. It’s now part of my off trail exercise routine and rank it in the top four of exercises that translate to the trail best. The other three are, stair master, 15″ box step- ups and, treadmill with 15 degree (or greater) incline.Jun 10, 2017 at 10:04 pm #3472719
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I did order a Boso ball and wobble board and will try them out.Jun 12, 2017 at 5:30 pm #3473025
Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Excellent suggestions here. One more: yoga. The balance poses in yoga, particularly the ones that have you on one foot, are excellent for strengthening the ankle and improving (speeding up) the brain-ankle connection so that your ankle responds more quickly to signals from the brain. After a bad sprain a few years back, I made a comment to my doctor about how I must have weak ankles, and he said that in most instances it’s no weak ankles but a slow connection to the brain caused by the body so often being on flat surfaces.Jun 12, 2017 at 5:35 pm #3473027
“I did order a Boso ball and wobble board and will try them out.”
Please let us know what you think of them.Jun 12, 2017 at 6:01 pm #3473036
Dave AyersBPL Member
@djayersLocale: SF Bay Area
+1 on the Bosu, balance board, wobble board, and exercises with similar equipment. Another option is Balance Pods which are relatively inexpensive. You can scatter them about for stream crossing rock hopping simulation practice or in whatever other configuration seems appropriate. Putting two inline or side-by-side offers surprisingly challenging two-foot balancing. And they work for one-foot balancing as well.
On any of these, try to work your way up to more challenge via having a higher center of gravity by elevating your arms and free leg (like Yoga’s ‘Tree’ pose).
For cross-training, ice and inline skating are both great for building ankle strength, especially with the lower height speed skates. (Or leave your skate laces loose around the ankle if you have taller skates.)Jun 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm #3474086
Ethan A.BPL Member
@mountainwalkerLocale: SF Bay Area & New England
+1 Terry – these exercises do make you a better hiker. In addition, an article I read last year noted that lower leg muscles are the first to degrade with age, and older runners and walkers use upper leg muscles more than lower and move less fluidly as a result, so as runners (and hikers) get older it’s important to exercise lower leg muscles. The article included a number of exercises mentioned here.
Any walking on uneven ground, or, over boulders (say by a beach wave break) would be helpful. Trail running as well, though if you have had an issue you might like to start with other exercises first before trail running.
+1 Dena – single leg Yoga poses are excellent – you’ll notice small muscles in your lower legs making many quick autocorrects, quickening response time. Tai Chi, even just learning a few simple sequences, offers active balance practice and ankle strengthening and you can engage in pushing of arms against an opponent or still object like a tree while holding your ground.
+1 Joe L’s foot drawing exercise – did it in PT while recovering from a foot injury. Another two good PT exercises: 1) grabbing marbles or other objects with your toes and dropping them in another spot and 2) grabbing and scrunching up a towel with your toes until you’ve pulled the whole towel toward you.
Balance trainers work if you use them and you can use them at home, though it’s nice to get outside.
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