Ankle strength and stability are super important facets of a runner’s body. That is because your body is an entire chain. So, yes, your feet are on the ground and your legs are doing the push-off part, but your ankles can be a weak link in that chain. If you’re any part of a weak link from your head all the way to your toes, then you’re gonna have difficulty maximizing your potential as a runner. So, today we’re gonna talk about three essential exercises I use for strength and stability of my ankles to make sure they are not a weak link in my chain.
We’re going to start off with the basics and then kind of advanced from there. So, the easiest one, it should be the most simple and you can do it pretty much anywhere. First, I should say, take off your shoes, take off your socks, do these barefoot if you can. Because when you have that shoe, it adds two things. So, if you have bare feet, you can get more stability, more muscles working in those feet to work on both feet and ankles at the same time.
So, number one, we’re just doing a single leg stand. So, you’re just gonna stand there, move one leg up, and then stand there for a period of time. So, you can do like 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, and repeat that a few times. After you’ve got that down and you don’t have any difficulty doing that, you don’t wobble, you don’t go back and forth, side to side; you can increase the difficulty.
Now, if you have a Bosu, one of those half ball things, you can stand on those. That’s a great way to increase the difficulty. And it can go all the way up to standing on a medicine ball.
Now, I don’t recommend standing on a medicine ball for most people. This is something that one of my coaches mentioned she saw professional hockey players do to work on their ankle stability. Keep in mind, those are professionals in a sport that uses a ton of ankle strength.
So, just keep in mind, there is a progression there and you can increase the instability to work on strengthening. So, number one, just going to be doing single-leg stand.
Number two, I showed this in previous videos where we’re talking about shin splints. But it also applies here because a lot of that has to do with your ankle strength. And that is using a resistance band to work on your ankle strength, three different directions, in particular, left and right. Those are going to be the most important directions for you to work on.
So, here I show you going to the interior that is my right foot, I believe. If memory serves, I’m not looking at video at the moment. So, go into the inside and then the opposite direction, you’re going to be going to the outside that should be on the screen now.
So, the whole idea here is you’re going to do a set of 10, rest, do the other direction, do another set of 10. Maybe you do that two or three times around. This is going to directly work on your ankle strength. You can also do a dorsiflexion, it should be this last ankle video that’s rolling over my face here. And that is pulling back towards you. This is in part ankle strength, but it is in part shin muscles. So, I involve it because I’m already having my feet in the resistance band.
And I want to get that direction as well, while I’m already working on the ankles. Because you do plantar flexion when you are pushing off the ground when you’re running. So, you’re trying to do all these other kinds of motions you don’t necessarily get specifically while you’re running to complement those things.
So, the last thing is something that I used for anchor rehab in college. So, it was recommended by one of the trainers. This is going to be the most advanced of the three. So, if for some reason you have pain in your ankles and you’re doing these ankles exercises because you injured your ankle, wait until that pain has basically subsided until you’re moving up to this one.
If you’re doing this as pre-hab, no problem. So, looking at my feet, here we are, I’m standing still. We’re going to do that first one, move up, and stand just on one leg. Now visualize a line on the ground, what we’re going to do is hop-forward in a zigzag pattern to the end of that line. And then backwards in a zigzag pattern back to the start. And then switch feet and repeat.
Here, you’re basically working on the very functional parts of using your ankle from side to side. This is why I said this is the most advanced of the three because we’ve got active motion, stability, all of that kind of involved, you know, work on the other two and build up to this last one. But this last one is going to be the most functional for you in terms of building ankle strength for running.
So, do you have any other ankle strength exercises you want to share with the other people watching this video? Leave them down in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.