Everyone knows exercise is a key component to staying healthy. With nicer weather comes more outdoor activities, including running. Running produces a ground reaction force of 2.5 times the runner’s body weight, while walking produces only 1.2 times the runner’s body weight1. With the increased demand from ground reaction forces and the foot being the first to come in contact with the ground, ankle pain can be common in runners. So, what can we do to prevent injury, specifically to the ankle, with the increased demand required during running? Here are five exercises to improve and prevent ankle pain, specifically when running.
1. Arch lifts: stand with your feet flat, without curling your toes or rolling your ankles. Lift your arch off the ground and lower it back down. Perform this exercise for 3 minutes on each side. Remember, try not to use the muscles on the front of your ankle or your toes.
2. Side plank clamshells: lay on your side propped up on your elbow, lift your hips off the ground and squeeze your gluts, lift just your knee without rotating your hips and lower the knee back down. Perform 3 sets of 20 repetitions on each side.
3. Single leg bridges: lay on your back with one leg in the air, keeping your hips square to the ceiling, press down through your bent knee and lift your hips, then lower down. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
4. Single leg heel raises: standing on one leg, press down through your toes, and lift your heel off the ground. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each side. Remember, don’t let your ankle roll out as your raise up. Focus on lowering (3 counts going up, 5 counts coming down), and increase repetition up to 3 sets of 30 as you get improved strength and endurance.
5. Lateral dips: standing on a small step, keep your pelvis level, bend your knee to tap your opposite heel on the ground, and straighten the knee to lift back up. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side. Use a smaller step to start and increase the height of the step as you get stronger.
While the above exercises can benefit all runners with or without ankle pain, ankle pain can have many causes. Don’t hesitate to get your ankle pain evaluated by a health care professional. Our team at Athletico offers free injury assessments for a wide variety of injuries, including ankle pain. Our Endurance Specialists at Athletico will assess your pain and recommend a treatment plan.
*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.