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Weak ankles?

Ankle sprains can happen to anyone. It is sad to think that so many people talk about their previous ankle injuries and brush it off secondary to weak ankles! When you ask this group what they do to prevent further issues, it ‘s unbelievable how many do nothing.

So what can be done? Well, the list is endless, but I thought I would keep it simple and stick to an exercise regime that requires no equipment. This way there is no reason not to start protecting your ankles today. This particular program has been designed as a maintenance program that should be performed regularly in the preseason as preparation or periodically during the season as maintenance. It has been designed for someone who has previously had an issue and has returned to their chosen activity or someone who is looking for a preventative program to minimise risk in the future.

1) Single Leg Stance – this is the easiest and most straightforward to incorporate into your everyday life. Use activities that occur every day to cue you to perform this exercise. By incorporating it into your day, you save time which also prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by the number of exercises to complete. Utilise standing at the lights waiting to cross the road or standing at the sink brushing your teeth as an opportunity to perform the exercises.

Progressions

– Change the surface that you are standing on, the softer the surface the harder the exercise is.

– Perform with your eyes open or closed

2) Single Leg Squat – Start this exercise with a chair behind you this way you can sit and regroup. As improvement occurs, try to touch your bum as softly as possible onto the chair rather than sitting. An additional way to increase the difficulty of this exercise is to use an unstable surface as this is primarily a strength exercise but additionally doubles up as a proprioceptive exercise as well. A nice level to start is with three sets of five repetitions, but this can quickly progress to three sets of 10-20 repetitions.

3) Standing Clockface – This is primarily a proprioceptive exercise but also helps develop strength and control. As your confidence and control improve try, reach further with your foot outside your base of support. Again to progress this further you could also utilise an unstable surface. To start with you can perform this exercise for two repetitions of thirty seconds progressing to one repetition of a minute.   

4) Hop and Stick – This exercise tests your proprioception and control further but also looks to improve your landing technique. We all know how vulnerable we can be when jumping and landing during sport and I’m sure you can see how important this exercise can be. It is important to focus on your landing pattern and position of your knee when doing so. Ensure you aim to keep your knee over your middle and second toe, keep your knee stable during landing and ensure your hips do not drop when loaded. Additional ways of progressing this exercise include adding a direction to your hop. Start with hopping forward concentrating on sticking the landing and maintaining your balance. From here you can add lateral, 90-degree and 180-degree rotations.
Obviously, it is ideal to have a program custom designed for you. So those of you who have the opportunity to be assessed by a Physiotherapist and have a program designed I do recommend you taking this opportunity. If you are unable to do this, I would recommend that you get a friend or family member to watch you perform the above program and provide you feedback on your form, especially on the hop and stick exercises.  

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