Avoiding injury: good ankle stretches

Ankle injuries suck. 

And realistically, who wants to hobble around if they can avoid it? If you weren’t already aware, the ankle joint is one of the major weight bearing structures in the body; which is why it’s important to stretch it. A few days ago I mentioned that my ankle felt tight while running (even after stretching.) I’ve had many rolled ankles in my day and want to avoid it if at all possible. So in an effort to take all proper precautions, I came across these from the Livestrong website. Hope it helps someone out there!

Ankle Roll

An ankle roll is a basic ankle stretch that can help warm the ligaments both through the top of the foot and along the back of the ankle. It’s easy to do as part of your regular warm up. From a standing position, spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Plant your left toe into the ground while your right foot remains flat. Rotate your left ankle forward and back, as if you were drawing a circle with your heel. Repeat five to eight times before stretching your other ankle in the same manner.

Stair Stretch

A stair stretch makes for an ideal conditioning stretch for both the ankle and the calf muscles, but it is not recommended if you have poor balance. Stand at the edge of a bottom stair, with your body facing the flight of stairs. Move backward until your heels hang off of the stair. Carefully drop your heels downward while still supporting yourself on the stair with your toes. Hold for a count of 10, suggests the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society. Repeat 10 times if possible.

Ankle Alphabet

Try an alphabet stretch for the ankle, which is especially effective for children. Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Using your big toe as the “pencil,” write out the alphabet in the air in front of you, suggests the American Academy of Family Physicians. To make the stretch a game for younger athletes, have participants stretch in pairs and write letters and words to each other while they take turns guessing what the words are.

Band Stretch

For a deep stretch before exercise, use a resistance band to direct your ankle gently and get a full, all-encompassing stretch in every direction. Sit on a weight bench with one leg straight in front of you and one leg supporting you on the ground. Leave your foot and ankle dangling off the front of the bench. Wrap a resistance band across your instep, gripping the ends in your hands. Very gently move the band to the left and the right, getting a good stretch in each direction, suggests “Stack” magazine. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before repeating on your other leg.

If you have any stretches that will help, please send them along – I promise to post!

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