Working Your Ankles

January 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Health, Sports 

Recently a question about ankles was asked on an ultra email forum.  Here’s an edited version.

“Rolling ankles seemed to be a weekly thing. So just wondering if there are any specifics to the alphabet drawing feet. Sitting, standing, flatfooted or pointed toes? One of these or all of the above? I have already been messing with it and: 1. I have very uncoordinated feet and 2. I can already feel a little “work-out” going on, so this is very promising! Any specifics would be much appreciated. Whatever that I can do to help my running while at the office is a major victory!”

Most athletes know the importance of strong ankles. Whether a runner, adventure racer, triathlete, hikers, or walker, you’ll benefit from making your ankles stronger. I responded with some basic advice.

FitterFirst Wobble Board

Wobble Board

“I’d suggest a wobble board or balance board. The best ones are round. They have a rounded ball on the bottom and when you stand on them, you are forced to work your ankles as you try to keep you balance. They are very good at strengthening ankles. Keep one at home and the office. You can always alternate standing on one foot with your eyes closed and arms out. Depending on your sense of balance, that works the ankles too.”

The reference to the alphabet in the question is about using your toes and feet to write the letters of the alphabet. The motion of the writing the letters works the ankle. It’s a very effective exercise.

I also like the simple and no-cost method of working your ankles by standing on one foot, arms out to the side, and then closing your eyes. This is harder than it sounds but is also effective at strengthening your ankles.

FitterFirst has a great line of wobble boards. Here is some text from a wobble board page on their website.

Regardless of your age or ability, daily use of a balance board or wobble board is an asset to your fitness, health and well-being. Our Professional series wobble boards are made of a durable 3/4″ Baltic Birch and feature our patented Tri-Level adjustment system, which allows for a quick and easy change to any of the three difficulty levels. Simply spin the sphere and select which setting suits your balance ability and in seconds you can be working towards better S.A.M. (Stability, Agility, and Mobility). A patented dual level fulcrum allows the board to adjust from basic to advanced with a simple twist of the wrist. Try our wobble boards for daily balance maintenance at the office, while talking on the phone, or while watching television. 


You will experience:

  • Improved balance & coordination
  • Heightened sense of body awareness
  • Increased core strength & stability

One Shoe for You?

December 22, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health 

Whether you are a runner, ultrarunner, adventure racer, thru-hiker, casual walker, or something in-between, you are probably always on the lookout for the right shoe. Maybe one of the magazines you subscribe to has a shoe issue, or occasional shoe reviews. Or maybe you scour the Internet reading reviews or pay close attention to what is written in email forums to which you subscribe. It’s the elusive search for the perfect shoe.

Wall of Shoes

Wall of Shoes

Can there be more than one shoe that is right for your feet? Are there perfect shoes? Christopher Willett went through four pairs of shoes on his 2003 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike (2600+ miles) and bought them as he went. Wearing size 15 running shoes, he didn’t really have the option of buying from an outfitter along the trail. He would call or use the Internet from various towns along the way and have new shoes and socks sent up trail. He started in Brooks Adrenaline GTS and liked them in the hot 563-mile Southern California section. He wished the next shoe, the Asics Eagle Trail, had a more protective sole but liked the tread. While the New Balance 806s were structurally good, he felt they had a poor tread design and they are the only shoe that he would not wear again. He finished the last 670 miles in the Asics Gel Trabuco V and liked their durability and tread. Would one of the shoes have worked for his whole thru-hike? If they had been the NB 806s, the answer would be no. Probably any of the other three would have worked the whole way, but Chris might have had problems sticking with one shoe given the varying weather and terrain of the trail. Even the most perfect shoe can have small issues: breathability, tread design, cushioning, sole protection, and so on. Each of these issues can make them perfect for one set of conditions and wrong for another.

In reality, there is more than one shoe that is right for your feet. What’s important, regardless of which shoe you choose, is that the shoe fits.

Note: The photo shows part of the display of shoes at Zombierunner, Palo Alto. They have a great store.

Foot Fetish

October 14, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

I have always liked the prose “Foot Fetish” that Lisa BUtler, an ultrarunner, wrote about feet. I have included it at the front of each edition of Fixing Your Feet since the 3rd edition.  It’s short, but relevant to those of us who love sports. Here’s what Lisa wrote:

My feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
with black nails on the toes where I have nails at all
Lovingly decorated with bright colors.

My toes are warriors, of a sort.
They carry the entire continent of my body on adventures
and rise to challenges that could crush them.
Some days they are worn and calloused,
but they are strong and fierce adversaries for the
rocks they overtake.

My arches are the springboard of my soul.
They give me lift with every step I take
and cushion all my landings.
They are always ready
when I want to jump for joy.

My heels respond when the shepherd
of my spirit nips at them to run.
They strike again and again,
to thwart frustration,
to redeem the day.

My feet are runner’s feet;
a little rough around the edges,
but they are strong
and they are willing
and oh, I love them.

~ Lisa Butler, Ultrarunner

Adventure racer's feet from Raid the North Extreme

Adventure racer’s feet from Raid the North Extreme