It appears that, when I rolled my ankle so badly in November, it was pretty bad. It FELT pretty bad, let me assure you. But I suffer from that British problem of reacting to injury with ‘Oh it’s fine, thank you so much, I’m so sorry I hurt myself’ and so I didn’t really acknowledge it fully. After ten days’ rest, it felt fine. I got back running again and all was well.
However it feels like pretty much every time I run on unpaved ground, I roll my ankle again. I did it with Jen at Briones and Oops, I did it again this weekend at Pacifica, resulting in a DNF and missing out on some trails I really wanted to run. I’ll be honest and admit I’ve rolled it during hikes as well. For the record, when I’ve run on pavement, it feels TOTALLY fine and strong…which is why I’ve ventured back onto the trails again. The obvious solution is to avoid the trails but that’s not a long term solution.
Clearly my ankle is chronically weak and needs strengthening. I have a phone consultation with a physio today (weird, eh?) but in the meantime, I did some googling on how to strengthen my ankle and this is what I found. Please note that I am NOT a doctor or a physio, I am just a runner with a weak ankle who’s trying to make it a little stronger. You take my advice at your own risk. This blog post is primarily for me, as a reference for next time (sigh) but it may be useful for other Bambi-ankled maidens.
Obviously, start these exercises when your ankle no longer hurts!!
This is what Runners’ World recommend.
- Stand on one foot while holding your arms out to your sides with your eyes open. When you can do this for 60 seconds, try closing your eyes. Then repeat for the other leg.
(You can add weights to this to make it harder, or stand and balance on an uneven surface).
- Stand on the edge of the stairs and let the ball of your foot hang off the edge (“hang 10” like a surfer; only the back half of your foot is in contact with the floor). With a handrail nearby, close your eyes and hold that position for 60 seconds.
- Now, turn around and stand on the edge of the stairs and let your heels hang off the edge. Again, with a handrail nearby, close your eyes and hold that position for 60 seconds.
- Next, stand on the edge of the stairs, hold on to the handrails, and let your heels hang off the edge. Gently lift your heels (like standing on your tip-toes, so you are standing on the balls of your feet) and hold that position for 10 seconds. Gently lower your heels as far as you can; hold that stretch for 10 seconds (repeat six to 12 times).
After you are able to perform the above exercises with minimal difficulty, then stand with one foot on a wobble board or pillow disk for more of a challenge.
- Finally, get a resistance band and sit on the floor. With one end of the resistance band tied around your foot and the other end attached to a fixed object that is out in front of the foot. Slowly pull the foot back toward the knee (dorsi flexion). Complete 20 repetitions every other day. For more resistance, you can double up the elastic band.
- Remain on the floor, this time with one end of the resistance band tied around your foot and the other end in your hands. Slowly push your foot forward (plantar flexion) and then return to the starting position. Do 20 repetitions every other day.
- Try a little barefoot jogging. Jog barefoot slowly for five to 10 minute on a football field once a week, which may help strengthen feet and ankles.
Or try this one from Livestrong.
- Add a movement exercise to strengthen your ankles. Walk on the outsides of your feet by turning your soles toward each other. Walk on your heels with your toes lifted. Walk on your tip toes. Walk slowly and begin with five to 10 steps. Gradually increase your number of steps as your ankle strength improves.
Wikipedia have some exercises to do with a resistance band here.
And finally, Page wrote a useful post about how to treat a newly sprained ankle.
I’ll be starting these at the weekend, assuming my ankle feels good. Wish me luck!