Ankle Exercise

I used to roll my ankles all the time. Sometimes I’d underestimate distance or sometimes it was just a simple misstep, but it always resulting in my ankle twisting and buckling. I blamed this painful occurrence on figure skating (my sport of choice for 11 years), since the sturdy skates I wore supported my ankles so well that they never had to strengthen on their own. I didn’t know if this was actually true, but it was a satisfying excuse.

The fact remained, however – and no amount of excuses would fix it – that I had an unfortunate habit of twisting my ankle. Ouch.

And I know I’m not alone. People twist their ankles all the time. After all, we depend on our ankles quite a bit. They support all of our weight, and on top of that they’re expected to be agile and flexible. That’s asking a lot from a joint.

Especially a joint that doesn’t move too freely. The ankle joint is a hinge joint, which means that it’s technically only built to move along one plane (backwards and forwards). The unique structure of the ankle allows for limited rotation and side-to-side movement, but again, the main function of the ankle is for flexing and pointing. Flexing, pointing, and holding you up.

These are all important actions, used for basic things like walking, running, and standing. Since ankles are expected to do so much, we need to keep them strong. And did you know that there’s an easy way to do that?

    Here’s what you do:

  • Stand up.
  • Lift up one foot.
  • Stand there for as long as you can.

Yep. That’s it. Just stand on one foot.

Why does this work?

Most of the time when we stand or walk or run, our weight is being distributed between both ankles. By putting all of your weight on one foot for a significant amount of time, you’re demanding that the muscles around this one ankle work extra hard to keep you stabilized. Remember – your body doesn’t actually have to be doing anything active in order for your muscles to be working. That’s why your muscles can ache so much just because of posture problems. Holding your bones in place is a full time job!

Naturally, you can do this little exercise all the time. Give it a try whenever you have a free moment and happen to be standing around (or at least, whenever you don’t have to be sitting). Personally, it’s my favorite “waiting for the bus” activity. Standing around never felt so productive!

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