Help! My ankles are weak!
So in response to a post that I saw in the facebook realm a few days ago, let's look at the ankle issue.
1. If you wear boots, high heels, or very thick running shoes on a daily basis, you are limiting your foot musculature's ability to truly disperse your force in an even way while walking, standing, or running. What? You're also preventing your ankle from articulating fully, so if you're healing, keep it flat. Read this if you didn't already.
2. Heel strike while walking, mid foot strike while running. This is the gait pattern that your body adjusts to when you switch to minimalist shoes, which is why some folks feel incredibly sore in the first few weeks of running/walking in vibram five fingers, merrell's, or the like. Look at this olympian's form. (Just a side thought, look at how short distance competitive runners run in general. They wear very minimalist footwear, and they don't heel strike.) Also, a note from the Gait Guys, "increased cushioning INCREASES impact forces".
3. Point your feet forward! And your knees and your hips. Just like I mentioned in the violin-posture debacle, it affects your whole body, and may also refer to some weakness in other parts of your body, such as your adductors (or inner thighs).
4. Video tape yourself walking and running. Even if you're not a body specialist, start to notice how you strike the foot in each situation. Is one leg stronger than the other? Is the rotation of the body different on each side? Which ankle is "weaker"? Do you lean more on one side?
5. Ankle weakness is related to leg weakness! Meaning, that you may have instability due to imbalance of musculature in the calf, thigh, etc. Also, are your arches collapsed and your knees pointing inwards? That's also an issue.
So what are you going to do? There are TONS of great articles about this, from a minimalist footwear perspective, which I where I would suggest going, at least for walking and running. You don't have to do the toe shoe thing, but any mimalist shoe could help strengthen the musculature of the foot and improve your gait.
Read this, which gives 12 foot, calf, and ankle exercises! Also, stretch your calves!
Try this Jill Miller video of wheelies...maybe in the privacy of your home or yard...
Start pelvic listing (also known as hip hikers in YTU®)-when you stand on one leg, whether in yoga class or in this sequence, you start to strengthen the standing leg's musculature, which is a good thing. This also helps your hips.