Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ankle Strengthening Workout for Runners

A sprained ankle is no fun for anyone, but especially a runner. Sprains usually take a while to heal and runners just don't like staying away from the run that long.
A sprained ankle usually coincides with a sudden sideways or twisting movement of the foot. Often sprained ankles are associated with sporting events, but they all too frequently occur during everyday activities. We're all just an awkward step or an uneven surface away from a Sprain.

Did you know there's a rating scale for the severity of ankle sprains? The scale is based on the types of symptoms you're experiencing and the severity of the injury to the ligament in the ankle.
  • Grade 1 Ankle Sprain: This basic type of sprain stretches the ligament beyond it's normal state. The symptoms tend to be limited to pain and swelling. You can usually walk without assistance, but running or jumping may be difficult.
  • Grade 2 Ankle Sprain: This sprain is caused by more severe partial tearing of the ligament. The swelling and bruising is typically worse than that of a Grade 1 Sprain. You may be able to walk a few steps unassisted, but it's pretty painful.
  • Grade 3 Ankle Sprain: This sprain occurs when there's complete tearing of the ligaments. The ankle is very painful and walking is usually very difficult. Your ankle feels very unstable as if it may "give-way."

A Grade 1 Sprain, will usually subside and heal with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), but if you exhibit the following symptoms, a trip to the doc it probably warranted.
· Not able to walk on your ankle
· Severe swelling
· Symptoms linger beyond a couple of days
· Experiencing pain in other areas than the ankle such as the foot or above the ankle

Sometimes the symptoms of a Grade 3 Ankle Sprain and those of an ankle fracture can be hard to tell apart without an X-ray, so when in doubt, see your doc.

So, what's a runner to do? Well, the best case scenario is to avoid ankle sprains all together and the best way to do that is to strengthen your ankles. The following video clip will take you through four simple exercises using an exercise resistance band that will help you strengthen all the small stabilizer muscles around the ankle area. The exercises will also help promote more flexibility in your ankles. Think of these exercises as "Pre-hab" to help prevent injury and avoid having to to "Re-hab" exercises.


Jennifer said...

Ha! A very timely post. I turned my ankle bad a few months ago and now that I am starting marathon training I am feeling it, these will come in handy, I do one or two of those but more is better!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Jennifer! Hope these exercises help! Which marathon are you training for?

Q said...

Thank you for this! I had a really swollen ankle which I finally just fully recovered from, I will keep this bookmarked in case I need it in the future!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Forward Foot Strides! Glad to hear you fully recovered and hope these exercises will help keep you injury free! Keep me posted! Thanks!

Nicki said...

I have always had weak ankles. With two athletes in my house who have stretch ligaments (a high ankle sprain) and broken bones there (one with a cast, one with a walking cast), I am always looking for ways to strengthen. I use the kids' bands now and the exercises the PT gave them but will add this.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Nicki! cool, let me know how these work for you.

Elizabeth Mangano said...

I found out about you from the Guideposts article. I have always loved to run but never ran consistently. I rolled my right ankle (dancing) about 6 years ago; at the time there were no signs of a sprain. After many months of difficulty (while continuing my usual activities, including dance), I finally went to the doctor, blah blah blah, and despite several rounds of physical therapy and the assistance of a fitness therapist, I rolled the same ankle twice last year (coming down stairs and ... dancing!) and I'm not sure now just what to do next. I am glad to find your information posted here and hope it will help me as I try (again!) to get to where I can run again. Thank you.