With summer reaching its peak for the year here in B.C., Canada, there hasn’t been a better time to do some hiking and trail exploration than now. Recently I decided to do an easy trail walk with a couple of friends and realized how often there were small potholes every few meters, or large, uneven and awkward rocks were scattered amidst the trail path.
Soon we found ourselves unconsciously performing balance exercises, which brings me to the topic of this article.
Many of us have experienced ankle injuries and sprains at some point in our lives and those that are fortunate enough to not have experienced such an injury – well, we won’t talk about them too much here.
But, if you’ve rolled your ankles in the past, want to strengthen your ankles, or understand how the ankle works a bit more- here are a couple of tips!
The Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) is one of my favourite dynamic balance assessment tools and functions also as an exercise to work on ankle strength and stability.
Simply reach as far along each line as possible, tapping the foot down at the furthest point, whilst staying balanced on your other foot. Your standing leg should be slightly bent at the knee. Keeping the hands at the hips is optional. Attempt to touch each corner 3 times per set and progressively increase as appropriate.
The second tip is to perform calf raises to strengthen the posterior calf complex. The ability for you to control your ankle relies heavily on the strength and capacity of two muscles in your calf, called the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These two muscles work to allow you to walk, run, jump, and perform many other daily tasks.
To start strengthening them- start by performing 10-15 repetitions for 2 sets of double leg calf raises.
They look like this: (see below). Start by performing them on level ground, and once you can perform 15-20 repetitions with relative ease, progress to a small step platform for increased difficulty.
Enjoy these two tips on getting started on your journey to improving your calf and ankle balance. Remember to talk to your physiotherapist or health care practitioner before beginning an exercise program.
Whether you’re suffering from an injury or hoping to improve your fitness overall, get in touch with us. Our team at VanCity Physio is ready to help you crush your goals, whatever they may be.