Some of our favorite summer activities necessitate ankle strength, stability and proprioceptive balance strategy. Hiking, paddle boarding, water skiing, soccer, yoga, surfing and even sandy or rocky beach walks all require stable ankle joint performance. Think of all the stress those joints take on, especially when navigating uneven ground or landing from a big jump. You can improve your skills by upping your ankles’ reliability. Here are a few strength and balance exercises to prevent injury (the dreaded ankle roll), boost your strength, and keep you upright on that tricky paddle board! No special gym equipment or resistance bands required.
1. Single Leg Balance Clocks: Find an uneven platform like a foam pad, rocker board, couch cushion, mattress, etc. Stand on one leg and tap the numbers on a clock with the free leg. For example if you’re standing on your left leg, tap on 12 thru 6 and back up to 12 with the right. Repeat on the other leg. Try 5 repetitions per side
2. Lateral Step-Down Taps: Find an elevated surface like a stool, stair, curb, log, etc (4” to 8” elevation is good). Stand on one leg at the edge of the platform. Lower your opposite heel towards the ground by gently bending at the knee as you press your rear end backwards. Return to a straight (but not locked) leg. Make sure to keep your knee behind or in line with your standing toes. Try 5 to 10 taps on each leg to start.
3. Heel Raise/Lower: Use the same elevated platform as above. Stand with toes towards the edge of the surface, heels hanging off. Equally distribute your weight between both legs. Pop up onto the balls of your feet, lifting heels up as high as they can go. Slowly lower your heels until they reach below the edge level. Repeat. Try 20 repetitions.
4. Side to Side Hops: Find a nice level spot on the floor. Take a big step to the side (larger than shoulder width distance). That’s your frame of movement. You could even mark the distance with tape or chalk. Now, up the tempo and hop from side to side. Land on the single leg with a gently bent knee and maintain balance before springing to the other leg. Beginners should tap the non-supporting leg down when landing and use it to help with the balance portion.
If you’re looking for more skilled strength or balance activities, mechanics training, or if you’re experiencing immobility, weakness or pain in the ankles (or any other joint for that matter) our Physical Therapy Team at Northwest Wellness can help. We’re here to support your movement and get your outdoors.
34730 Pacific Hwy S
Federal Way, WA 98003