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Ask FGG: How do I build strong ankles?
Posted by Tee in Ask FGG
Fix weak ankles with basic exercises you can do anywhere
I've gained about 60 pounds over the last 10 years, and it seems like my ankles are shot from carrying the extra weight. They twist and sprain easily, and get sore when I take longer walks. Are there any ankle treatments or exercises that will help?"

That's a common problem, and as those of us in northern hemisphere head into winter (think: ice skating, skiing, balance on icy driveways), a good one to tackle this week.

First, it's important to note that once you twist or sprain an ankle, you're more likely to do it again (and again), resulting in some pretty weak, wobbly ankles - overweight or not. That's because an injury to the ligament affects not only the ankle tissue, but also to the neuro-receptors there that tie into the central nervous system. These are responsible for our physical stability and balance. In short, damaged ankles mean damaged sense of balance, and damaged sense of balance means, well, more unsteadiness and therefore more twisted, sprained and even broken ankles.

To stop that cycle, you need to heal those receptors with simple balance training.*

Once you can bear weight on your injured ankle without discomfort, stand (shoeless) near a wall, counter, desk or dining-room table so you can reach out to catch yourself if you need to. Practice balancing on one foot, and then the other, spending three to five minutes on each foot. Do this a minimum of three days a week, though preferably every day, for about four weeks following an injury, after which you can scale back to a few minutes once or twice a week to keep ankles and receptors in good shape long-term.

To make a regular practice of ankle strengthening (tissue), check out these simple exercises.

Healthy, strong, pain-free ankles means enjoying a wider range of exercises and improved endurance, which promotes more activity. More activity means a progressively leaner, healthier body, which means less stress on joints, which means fewer injuries, which means more activity...(see where I'm going with this?) So let's love and care for those ankles.

* As with any exercise, check with your doctor first to be sure there are no other underlying conditions responsible for the injury, and no reason why you shouldn't practice balance training.