By Brian Acton
There are many potential reasons for having weak ankles: an injury such as a sprain or strain, chronic ankle instability (CAI), diabetes, arthritis, and more. Your ankles can also be affected over time by the wear and tear caused by walking, running, and jumping.
Symptoms include sore ankles or feet, recurring ankle sprains and strains, poor balance, and your ankle twisting outward while walking. To lessen the risk of injury and reduce symptoms, there are things you can do to strengthen your weak ankles, improve your balance, and reduce the chance of injuries.
Here’s how to strengthen weak ankles.
- Stay Active
Ankle injuries, chronic weakness, and pain may discourage you from walking, running, or being active. But exercise is a crucial factor in recovering from an injury or strengthening your ankles. Exercise can help you prevent further injury, maintain current fitness levels, and keep your other muscles and joints strong. If you must adjust your exercise routine due to weak ankles, do so - but stay active.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess weight puts an added strain on your body. Nowhere is that truer than your ankles and feet, which bear most of your body weight when you stand and walk. Being overweight puts additional pressure on your ankles and can lead to sprains, arthritis, and tendinitis. Maintaining a healthy weight will protect your ankles and lessen the load they carry.
- Perform Ankle Exercises
To promote ankle mobility and strength, you can do stretches and lifts that target your ankles and make them stronger. Exercises include:
- Standing Calf Raises: with your fee at hip width, stand on a stair while holding the railing or wall (or stand on the floor if you have poor balance). Raise your heels until you’re standing on your toes, then lower your heels back down. Repeat for several reps.
- Draw the Alphabet: lie on your back or stand with one foot in the air. Flex one foot and draw the letters of the alphabet with your toes. Repeat with the other foot.
- Flex and Stretch: lie on your back with your heels on the floor and your toes pointed to the ceiling. Slowly point your toes away from you as far as they can go, hold for a few seconds, then rest. Repeat for several reps.
- Wear Ankle Support
Ankle braces or wraps can provide support and protection to your ankles as you recover from injuries. While these supports aren’t meant to be worn forever and you don’t want to become dependent on them, they can help you avoid reinjury as you work on recovering ankle health. Talk to your doctor to see if you may need additional support.
Remember, if your ankles undergo significant trauma, are misshapen, have severe swelling, or if your pain is getting worse, it’s time to go to a doctor.