Words by Ashleigh Wilson
When it comes to preventing injury of the feet and ankles as well as preserving foot health for life, the best piece of advice I can give is to nurture your alignment. This needs constant observance. Firstly you need to train your eye so that you’re aware when your ankles are misaligned, and then you need to demand them to work towards a healthy alignment.
Examples of misaligned ankle positions:
Supination (Body weight is on the outside edge of the sole)
Pronation (Body weight is on the inside edge of the sole)
Overpronation and underpronation put undue stress on rest of the leg. Overpronators often struggle with issues relating to the inner/medial side of the leg, like shin splints or plantar fasciitis; underpronators tend to have issues on the outside/lateral side of the leg.
The following three exercises will allow you to build muscle and strength in the ankle from all sides so that your ankle has equal and balanced support, but the most important outcome of the video in this series is to monitor how stable and straight your ankles remain during each movement.
Watch the video below carefully to grasp how to achieve each exercise. Use a medium strength theraband for the feet and challenge the resistance as you build strength.
Time: Start with 30 seconds for each ankle per exercise (that’s a total of only around 3 mins) and build it up to a full minute (by then you’ll be aiming for just over 5 mins every alternate day… not a big ask for strong ankles and gorgeous lower leg muscles).
Exercise 1: Building muscles underneath the foot. Sit straight with one leg straight and one bent comfortably. Wrap the theraband around the ball of your foot and control your ankle as you push the band away from you. Your ankle is a very complex joint and will want to wobble and jiggle as you move it from a flexed to pointed position, the more control you have, the stronger it will be and the less pain you will feel. Imagine a line running down the Centre of your foot and stick to it as you move through this exercise.
Exercise 2: In the same position, wrap the theraband over the top of the ankle and then again underneath. Working just the toes, press them back and forth keeping the ankle stable. This is a smaller movement, moving the toes back and forth, but the work should be happening along the top of the foot as the muscles stabilize the ankle and pull the toes back when walking. Again try to control any movement from the where the toes meet the rest of the foot, in order to get the full benefit. Try this exercise before or after wearing closed toe shoes to alleviate cramp and give the toes a good stretch.
Exercise 3: Wrap the theraband around both ankles this time and work to separate the feet without separating the ankles. This exercise should be felt in the muscles along the sides of the lower leg, you might not move very much but try to separate the toes while keeping the ankles glued. This is a powerful exercise so stick with it and enjoy new found support and strength. Not to mention toned strong calves, perfectly prepped for high heel wearing.
Remember – any sharp pain at any point could lead to an underlying problem, seek professional advice and speak to a foot doctor. Discipline, building awareness and taking care of your body will have far reaching benefits that are well worth the time and effort. Happy feet, Happy you.