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3 exercises to never sprain your ankle again

Toronto-based physiotherapist David London demonstrates three easy strength exercises to say goodbye to ankle sprains

banded exercises

For most runners, especially those tackling trails, ankle sprains are a frequent problem that can impact their training and performance. It’s a common temptation to downplay the discomfort of an ankle sprain and underestimate its possible repercussions, but sometimes disregard can only aggravate the issue. Ankle sprains often result from weak muscles and insufficient attention to the foot, which, in turn, can place increased stress on the ankle joints. So, how can you avoid them for good?

David London, a physiotherapist with The Runner’s Academy in Toronto, shares three exercises with a resistance band and a dumbbell for strengthening the muscles and tendons around the ankle, to help make sure you never sprain your ankle again. “Preventing ankle sprains through targeted exercises is paramount for runners,” says London. “Ankle instability issues can lead to a host of injuries, including shin splits, knee pain and hip issues.”

In the video, London sheds light on issues such as proper form, the amount of resistance, and the importance of executing each movement eccentrically to apply more stress to the muscles and tendons. He says the purpose of these three exercises is to build eccentric strength around your ankles, making them resilient, to prevent further sprains.

  1. Banded ankle extensions: Using dumbbell and band. Make sure you have enough resistance and place the band on either side of your ankle bone, making sure the force is pulling back and downwards. Now lean forward and put your weight through the ankle and the foot. And you should feel a little bit of that resistance creating some space in the joint, and stretching through the back of your ankle.
  2. One-legged pendulum balance: Pick up one dumbbell and create a tripod with your foot. Put the balance in your big toe, your pinky toe and your heel, making sure your balance is strong and set before you lift your other foot off the ground. Once you find your balance pass the weight side to side like a pendulum without letting the ankle roll.
  3. Eccentric calf raises: Put your heels over the edge of a step with your toes on the ball of your feet. Elevate your heels as high as you can by standing on the balls of your feet. Come up straight and come down slow without letting that foot wobble to strengthen those muscles around the ankle. Repeat five to ten times.
 

4 exercises to eliminate knee pain

London points out that strengthening improves mobility around the joint and also reduces the risk of experiencing this recurring injury during high-impact activities. “Incorporating these exercises into a runner’s training regimen can significantly enhance performance and allow them to continue training without setbacks,” says London.

David London is a 28-year-old registered physiotherapist at The Runners Academy in Toronto. You can follow him on Instagram or YouTube.

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