Rolled and sprained ankles are an incredibly common injury in the hiking and trekking world. And it is an easy way to ruin even the best planned adventure!
And if these are causing you issues, and you are not taking steps to prevent them, is simply never going to get better. And year after year, your ankles are only going to get worse...
Podcast: Ankle Strength For Hikers
Why Ankle Sprains Are So Common While Hiking
Ankle sprains while hiking are incredibly common. This is for a few reasons:
By themselves, none of these would be a major issue.. but together they a perfect recipe for a sprained ankle!
And what is even worse, is in the year after spraining your ankle, you are at a MUCH higher risk of doing it again...
And the more you sprain it, the weaker your ankle gets... and the more likely you are to do it again!
The Usual Solution For Hikers
The usual solution in the hiking world is to turn to high top boot. The idea goes that this will give the ankles extra protection and support and greatly minimise the risk of ankle injury.
While it makes sense, there is A LOT of debate in the world whether it actually makes a difference. And there are some even arguing the fact, that wearing high boots over the long term can put you at a higher risk of reoccurring ankle injuries in the future...
But today we are not here to debate the science.
The reason why high boots should not be seen as the ultimate solution, is because they are only a band-aid solution.
If it does work for you, that is great. However relying on this will do nothing to fix the underlying issues which are causing the sprains. So you are not only locked into high boots for life, but you are still at risk of injuries in your day to day life when you are not wearing them!
So what is the real solution?
Well that simple.
You want to strengthen up the supporting muscles and structures of the ankle. So it can stay stable, safe and injury free while on the trail!
3 Ways To help Reduce Risk Of Ankle Injuries While Hiking
Isolated Ankle Strengthening Exercises
Sometimes the muscles supporting the ankle are simply just not strong enough. By doing some specific strengthening exercises with a band, you can increase the stability of this joint and reduce chance of injury.
This video has a few great examples:
Proprioception is your body's ability to realize where it is in space. Training and developing this in the ankle has been shown to be very effective at preventing ankle sprains. This is also known as balance training.
This doesn't need to be complicated! A few great examples include:
Closed Chain Strength Exercises
Another crucial part of protecting your ankles is developing both hip and knee stability. If these muscles are weak, there is a cascading effect down the body which can impact the ankles. The best way to do this is through closed chain exercises (i.e. your foot is connected to the ground or stable surface).
Great exercises here include:
Ankle sprains are incredibly common in the hiking and trekking world. But if you are worried about these, please don't rely on a band-aid solution to stop them happening! Instead, incorporate these exercises into your weekly routine and they will greatly help prevent you hurting them again.
Rowan is a personal trainer who specialises in training for hiking, trekkers and mountaineers for their bucket list adventures.
Summit Strength is a personal training for hiking service created specifically to help hikers have the best chance of a safe, enjoyable and successful adventure.