Build Strong and Stable Ankles for a Strong and Stable Body: Advanced Alignment Exercises PDF
The following are some of the most common alignment problems that occur with runners. These are commonly found in all athletes, but they tend to become more prevalent during training. A good way to prevent these issues from occurring is to perform the following exercises regularly.
Athletes often have poor hip flexion (hip extension) or excessive internal rotation (rotation of the pelvis). Poor hip flexion can cause a runner’s stride to be too long and lead to overstriding. Overstriding can result in injury because it causes the knees to go forward which puts undue stress on the lower back. Internal rotation of the hips may also contribute to shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and other injuries.
Ankle strength exercises are very important for preventing injuries. They allow the body to maintain proper alignment and reduce the risk of injury. If done correctly, they will not only improve your running form, but they will also make you feel better while doing them!
When performing these exercises, keep in mind that you should do them slowly and gradually build up to a speed where you feel comfortable. These exercises should not cause any pain. Instead they should be done in a relaxed manner. These strengthening exercises can be done at the beginning or end of your run or as a separate workout on their own. You can do all of them or pick out the ones that are most comfortable for you.
1. Single leg stance: Hold onto a table or chair for balance if needed.
With your right foot, lift it off of the ground about eight to ten inches and hold it there. Make sure to keep your knee straight; do not bend it. While balancing on your left foot, hold this position for about thirty seconds. Then switch and stand on your left leg.
2. Heel walks: Stand normally and then take a step forward with your right foot, but do not move your left foot.
Keep the heel of your right foot touching the floor while you take a small step forward with your left foot, keeping your heel in contact with the ground as well. Continue this process for about five steps and then switch to the left foot.
3. Calf raises: Stand normally and raise up on your toes as if you were going to touch your toes.
Then slowly lower yourself back down with control. Repeat this exercise for about twenty reps.
4. Ankle Eversion exercises: Stand normally and point your toes out as far as possible, making sure that you keep your heels on the ground.
Then slowly point your toes in as far as you can and then back out. There should be no pain while doing this exercise. Also, make sure that you are not leaning too far forward or backward and that your knee stays slightly bent.
5. Ankle Inversion exercises: Stand normally with your feet pointing straight ahead.
Then roll onto the outer edges of your feet, making circles with your feet but keeping the heels on the ground. Repeat for about twenty circles each way.
Strengthening your ankles and feet will help prevent shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and other problems. These exercises should be done in addition to, not as a replacement for, your regular running program. If you start to feel pain while doing these exercises, stop immediately and see your doctor.
This article was originally published August 2009.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.
Sources & references used in this article:
Factors contributing to chronic ankle instability: a strength perspective by TW Kaminski, HD Hartsell – Journal of athletic training, 2002 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Ipsilateral hip abductor weakness after inversion ankle sprain by K Friel, N McLean, C Myers… – Journal of athletic training, 2006 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Mechanical stability, muscle strength and proprioception in the functionally unstable ankle by L Ryan – Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 1994 – Elsevier
Examination of static and dynamic postural stability in individuals with functionally stable and unstable ankles by SE Ross, KM Guskiewicz – Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 2004 – journals.lww.com
Measurement and evaluation of dynamic joint stability of the knee and ankle after injury by EA Wikstrom, MD Tillman, TL Chmielewski, PA Borsa – Sports Medicine, 2006 – Springer
Ankle stability and movement coordination impairments: ankle ligament sprains: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning … by RL Martin, TE Davenport, S Paulseth… – Journal of Orthopaedic & …, 2013 – jospt.org