Okay, hands up who has excitedly put on their new 8-inch heels, ready to strut their stuff… stood up, had their ankle buckle and end up plummeting to the floor?!
Yep, heels aren’t easy and they demand strong, stable ankles to handle the challenge without landing a sprained ankle.
The Ankle is a hinge joint that allows you to point and flex your feet, but has additional articulations that allow you to move it in multiple directions.
This movement is created and supported by muscles, including:
– Tibialis Anterior/Posterior
– Gastrocnemius (Calf muscle)
Although we’re always aiming to point our toes for those gorgeous lines – your ankle is actually most unstable in the pointed position, relying predominantly on ligaments alone for support. For this reason, it’s important the muscles surrounding the joint are strong to help keep the joint stable and supported for when you’re attempting fast movement, change of direction and strutting your stuff both bare foot and in heels.
For a strong ankle you need good muscle control, balance and proprioception. Proprioception is your body’s awareness of where it is in space, which allows it to adjust, activate and move efficiently.
To help avoid ankle sprains and injury, these exercises can help build strong, sturdy ankles you can trust to hold you. I recommend using an exercise band for resistance (often at the studio, or can be purchased at Kmart or Rebel sport).
Alphabet: Slowly draw the alphabet with your foot A-Z, going to the edge of every movement.
Exercise band exercises: Following the diagram work for 10-20 reps of slow, full range dorsiflexion, plantar flexion, inversion & eversion each side.
Slow calf raises: Slowly rise onto your tiptoes, keeping your ankle straight in line with your foot, for the count of 8 seconds – both up & down. Aim for 10, progressing to one legged and then without holding on to any support.
Balance & Proprioception
One leg stance: Practice balancing on one leg, without holding support. Try closing your eyes, or standing on a cushion or semi-cylinder section of a pool noodle (flat side up) to challenge yourself. Aim for over 1min, without losing balance.
Hopping: Put a line on the floor and hop side to side, holding your landing position for 3 seconds, no wobbling!
Lunges: Practice walking lunges, keeping your ankles controlled and knees in line.
There are plenty of other exercises for building strong, stable and trustworthy ankles that won’t buckle when you want to wear those new heels!
Just remember, as beautiful as the shoes are – you’ve got to earn them – do the work now to ensure you can dance in them for years to come. 🙂
Do you feel like you have weak ankles? Learn some good strengthening exercises here.