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.
“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
On October 30th I wrote about ankle sprains and promised to give readers some strengthening exercises. I wrote the piece and scheduled it to run on November 1st. Then, for some reason, it failed and I didn’t catch the oversight until yesterday. So, I am running it today and will then resume the next promised posts on cold and heat therapy.
Strengthening exercises for the foot and ankle can help prevent injuries and will help in recovery from an injury. Stop any weight-bearing exercises if you experience pain.
• Toe exercises help to strengthen and tighten the metatarsal arch and stretch the tendons on top of the toes. Practice picking up marbles with your toes or put a towel on the floor and use your toes to scrunch the towel and pick it up.
• Strengthen your ankles by balancing with one foot flat on the ground and the other leg bent back at the knee, as if you were in the normal support phase of a step. Start with 30 seconds at a time and practice until you can hold your balance for several minutes. When you have mastered this step, close your eyes and do the same thing. Without eye feedback, it is harder to maintain your balance. Repeatedly losing your balance and then recovering gradually strengthens the ankles even more.
• Face a wall with your hands on the wall. Extend one foot behind you about 24 inches, while bending the other leg at the knee. Keep the heel of the back foot flat on the floor for two minutes and keep the knee straight—you will feel the calf muscle stretch. Repeat with the other foot.
• Face a wall with one foot flat on the floor and the other foot’s heel on the floor and toes up on the wall 3-4 inches. Gently move your knee slowly towards the wall until you feel slight stretching on the bottom of your foot and the back of your leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeating five times per foot.