7 ankle strengthening exercises for runners

7 ankle strengthening exercises for runners

Ankle Strengthening Exercises

1. Single Leg Balance

This exercise is as easy as it sounds; just stand on one leg and look to build the length of time you can do so up to a maximum of 1-2 minutes.

Running is all about alternating legs so having the strength to be able to stand on one leg without falling for a couple of minutes is very good prep for running.

The easiest way to build a routine around this simple exercise is to stand on one leg while brushing your teeth twice a day.

2. Ankle Stars

This is a good progression exercise for adding more stability to the ankles.

While balancing on one leg, move your free leg to touch all five points in an imaginary star around you.

If you want, you can set up five cones around you and actually touch them.

The increased rotation of the foot/ankle on the ground will improve the stability of the lower leg foot and ankle.

Build this one up so that you can repeat three times on each side.

3. Side Skaters

This exercise sees you jumping from side to side, landing on one foot each time.

By doing this, you’ll be prepared for all eventualities, be it running on cobblestones, accidental slips off curbs and, of course, running on the trails with uneven surfaces.

Look to perform 5-10 reps of this movement, staying in the landing position for 3-5 seconds each time.

4. Banded Ankle Inversions

Using small bands around the ankles means you can work on stabilizing the little muscles and ligaments in the ankles.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front and a band around the ankles.

Invert the ankle so that the sole bends inwards but don’t let the knee become involved in the rotation.

Do this 15-20 times on each side and repeat for two or three sets to strengthen the posterior tibias muscle.

This muscle plays a key part in controlling pronation and stability of the foot.

5. Plyometric Hops

When we run, we put three to four times our bodyweight through our feet. By doing rebounding hops, we can help to train our bodies to attenuate shock and become stronger.

Start by hopping forwards just on the one leg for 3-5 reps and stabilizing the landing each time.

You can then progress the exercise to include side-to-side hops and even backward hops to really challenge yourself.

6. Single-Leg Calf Raises

A staple strength-building exercise for any runner is a calf raise.

Start by doing 20-30 traditional single-leg calf raises per leg. Then, progress by mastering the oblique version.

This is done by dropping your ankle to a 45-degree angle off the side of a step.

By doing this, you’ll use the lateral potion of the calf and the peroneal muscles.

When you start with the obliques, aim to hit 15-20 reps each side.

7. Box Jumps

This is another good plyometric exercise for stabilizing ankles.

Get a box or a step and stand on it. Jump backwards on to the ground and back up on to the box.

If you jump from two feet to one it really adds an extra layer of power and stability.

Complete 4-6 on each leg. Stick and hold the single leg landing for 3-5 seconds each side.

Keep your knee flexed, as this forces the ankle to stabilize even further. Increase the box height to increase difficulty.

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