Why And How You Should Strengthen Your Ankles?
Ankle strength might be one of the most important but underappreciated aspects while training. Ankles take a lot of stress daily, and developing their strength and mobility will not only improve our workouts but regular daily activities as well.
Ankle injuries happen often but are frequently left aside after healing, and this is the wrong attitude. People who hurt their ankles in any way should be the ones to train them regularly, to avoid any similar accidents in the future.
People who had no ankle injuries in the past should also try to strengthen them even further. Invest 5-10 minutes daily in simple ankle exercises, and you will soon reap the benefits.
Besides ligaments, there are also muscles around the ankles that can and should be strengthened. Having strong ankles will help athletes perform better and be able to give their ankles a more considerable amount of stress without injury. It will also prevent some shin injuries. Although this is most important for athletes who expertise in running and jumping, it will also help yoga and dance practitioners in developing their practice, making it more safe and pleasurable.
The first thing you should work on is the balance. It will make you more aware of the muscles in the ankles; and as a result, you will be able to use them more efficiently. Balance on one leg or do a series of pistol squats for this part.
For the strengthening part, you should do calf raises. You can do them sitting or standing, but standing calf raises add more resistance and work your calves at the same time. You can do 3 sets of 50 repetitions of the exercise. When it gets too easy, do them with both legs. Also, try switching to balancing on just one foot; hold on to something if you need to. With time, you can add weight and lower the repetitions. Doing the raises on a step or anything above the ground level would be best because the ankle goes through larger ranges of motion and more work is added to the ankles.
Plyometric work is also known to improve ankle strength; so, incorporating jump squats, scissor steps, step ups, and similar exercises would help you in achieving your goal.
There are some exercises you can do while sitting on your chair, which is ideal for short breaks while at work or in school. One of them is foot circles. While sitting, extend one leg in front of you and make circles with your foot for 20-40 times. Repeat this on the other leg and ideally, aim to do 4-6 sets on each leg.
Besides being strong, you should also aim to keep your ankles flexible. You can easily do this by doing some light stretches. A great stretch is trying to move your toes closer to the heels. You can use your hand or a band to assist you in this. Pull the toes closer to your shin and hold for 10-20 seconds. Then pull them the other way towards your heel. Repeat this a few times on each leg.