Chandler Track and Field Youth Program is sponsoring a track meet on April 16 for kids aged 6 – 14 who live or attend school in the city. Competitions like these are fun, but they can push your child into overuse injuries if he or she is not properly conditioned. If your child plays spring sports, he or she may appreciate the following exercises for strong ankles to help head off sprains, strains, or fractures that could occur during running or jumping.
To make ankles strong and stable, the ligaments that hold bones together can’t be too lax, and the tendons and muscles must be strong and flexible in order to move the joint up, down, in, or out. Activities like swimming can build up these tissues, and also help for aerobic conditioning, by the way. In addition, the following exercises can strengthen the muscles and connectors in the joint:
- Balance: Stand with arms out at your sides, and lift one foot. Try to balance for 60 seconds. Once you can do that, try it with your eyes closed. You will feel the muscles around your ankle clench and release to maintain your balance, which helps strengthen them.
- Stair Hang: Make sure you have a handrail to grab. Then stand with the backs of your feet on the stair step and the fronts hanging off the edge. Close your eyes and hold 60 seconds. Now reverse with your forefeet on the stair and heels hanging off the edge.
- Toe rises/heel drops: Still with forefeet on the stairs, grab the rails, rise up on your tiptoes for 10 seconds, and then drop your heels below stair level for 10 seconds. Do this several times, up to 12 repeats.
- Resistance band stretches: Tie the band in a loop and put one end around a table leg. Sit on the floor and loop the other end around the top of your foot. Pull back slowly against the resistance and then return to neutral position, 20 times. Now untie the band and loop it around the bottom of your foot. Holding the ends, push your toes away from you against the pressure 20 times. Do this with both feet every other day.
If your child does these ankle strengthening exercises faithfully, he or she should be able to perform better and reduce the risk of injury. However, all sports come with risk, so if the worst should happen, keep our number handy and call Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona in Chandler at (480) 963-9000. You can also reach our Gilbert office by dialing (480) 981-1800, or contact us online for an appointment. Good luck to your child at the meet!