While working with athletes and injury rehab clientele, I have learned that ankle stability is something which should be mainstream as a functional tool. Children need this to help with proper alignment, growth and posture. As young adults, we need this to keep old injuries at bay, alleviate extra weight gain and prevent further joint damage. As older adults, we need this in order to avoid crippling falls and stability issues. The training variables and skills will vary among these age groups but there are some basic tweaks you can do with your present activities in order to enhance your ankle stability work that’s involved in your daily life.
Some of the fun games we play as children already use natural ankle stability exercises such as hopscotch, leap frog, and follow the leader which are sometimes played over rocks and other obstacles you might find at a local park.
Regimented exercises for children’s sports are used in coaching such as bounding, single leg hops and side shuffling. Most children already have a knack for balance so you can demand more of them than most other age groups with the exception of some adult athletes, depending on the sport. There is also a lesser degree of fear in most kids which seems more prevalent in older populations and young adults who have not previously been active.
Adults can incorporate ankle stability work while training in the gym by being creative and doing some exercises on a single leg or using various balance equipment in between exercises. It is now common to find balance boards, noodles, or half balls in the gym which aid in strengthening the ankle joint while also increasing stability.
Older adults have a higher likelihood of weight gain, fear of falling and poor balance which makes their training options limited but there are still options with ideas as simple as sitting on a body ball near a wall while lifting a leg and holding it for a few seconds. Wrapping a light ankle weight around your feet and doing foot circles both clockwise and counterclockwise is a simple exercise many age ranges can implement into their routine.
Simply standing by a wall and doing a single leg knee bend can be challenging if done with nonstop reps while the other leg stays off the ground throughout the entire set. If you’re more advanced, try hanging onto a dumbbell and try it away from the wall. Of course, in order for these to be effective you need to make sure your form is spot-on. Make sure to understand proper form and never let your knees go beyond your toes when doing knee bends and always avoid any type of knee knocking. Your knees should avoid falling inward so focus on pulling them outward. It may feel as though they are too far outward but if you watch yourself in a mirror you will see that it feels much farther out than it really is. Just be sure to keep those knees from falling inward or you could possibly injure yourself. Try to include these types of ankle workouts and exercises on a weekly basis if you’ve ever had knee, ankle, hip or lower back pain.