From trail running to flip-flops, daily activity can be rough on your ankles. Ironically, sticking to softer surfaces like grass and dirt to be kinder to your knees can also be perilous for the ankle joint. The best way to prevent aching ankles — or worse, a sprain — is to strengthen them.
- Balance blindfolded: In bare feet, stand with your right shoulder close to a wall. Lift your left foot, and keep your right knee slightly bent. Put your right fingertips lightly on the wall next to you, then close your eyes. It is really hard to balance! All the small muscles in your foot and around your ankle will be properly challenged and learn how to stabilize a wobbly joint. Try to hold the position for at least 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat a couple of times.
- Wobble your workout: Do squats and lunges on a BOSU. The unstable surface challenges your muscles in new ways, thereby making them stronger and preparing your ankles for running on soft or uneven surfaces.
- Jump on it: Jumping rope will strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support the ankle. It will also burn a ton of calories while toning your legs!
- Funky walks: Do both tiptoe walking and heel walks. Walking on your toes will strengthen your calves, and heel walking will also prevent shin splints.
- Write with your feet: Mobilize those ankles by writing all 26 letters of the alphabet with each foot, or do ankle rolls. These little activities strengthen your ankles from a variety of angles and help the joints stay mobile as well.