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Drill 1: Sides of Foot WalkMany people place too much weight either on the inside or the outside of their foot when they stand and walk. This exercise is used to help correct this by going the opposite way of our natural gait tendency. It also trains the lateral tilting action of the ankle joint.
- From a normal standing position, raise the insides of your feet so the weight comes to the outside of both feet. Now, walk around.
- For the second half of this drill, start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. The knees must cave inward as you roll your weight onto the insides of the feet. Now, walk around in this manner.
Both of these drills look funny, but they train your body in a position you’re not used to. A little practice of both is great, but you’ll want to primarily focus on the one opposite to how you use your feet naturally when you walk.
So, if you walk duck-toed and more weight is typically on the insides of your feet, you’ll want to balance it out with walking on the outsides of your feet. If you walk pigeon-toed, you’ll correct this by walking with the weight on the insides of your feet.
Since most ankle sprains occur when the ankle is rolled to one side or another, these two exercises train your ability to bear weight in these compromised positions.
Drill 2: Top of Foot Kneeling BalanceThis drill stretches the top of the foot and the ankle joint. From a seiza, or kneeling position, with the top of the feet on the ground, lean back so that your knees lift off of the ground. You’ll balance across the top of your feet, though you can support yourself with your hands against a wall if needed. Hold this position for time.
If you don’t have the flexibility to get into the seiza position, you can place a rolled-up towel between your feet and butt to support you, allowing you to sit on the towel and still get into the desired position.
Doing all three of these exercises will only take a minute or two, yet can go a long way towards keeping your ankles and feet mobile and injury free. There’s plenty more possible drills, but you don’t need more than these three really. And it doesn’t take long. Just a couple minutes every few days is sufficient to get a positive training effect.