3 Easy Exercises to Help Prevent Ankle Injuries

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How to strengthen your feet to avoid rolling, sprains, and breaks.

Better Your Balance
Stand on one foot without socks or shoes on and close your eyes. Slowly shift your weight from your heel to your toes and back, keeping your foot flat and trying to stay balanced. Go for a minute, then switch sides. Many of us never know how weak our ankles really are because we rely on stronger muscles to compensate. This exercise immediately points out imbalances – if you can't keep steady throughout the move, you know you have work to do; see tips two and three – and it also helps make your entire ankle stronger.

Inner-Thigh Squats
Many ankle injuries occur because the inner thigh isn't strong enough to pull the knee back into alignment when the ankle rolls in or out. To make sure your thighs are firing, do inner-thigh squats. Stand with feet hip-distance apart, toes and hips turned out 45 degrees. Squat with your weight in your heels, forcing your knees out. Do three sets of 10 reps. Go again, but this time, put your weight in the balls of your feet, keeping your back flat. If you don't feel a burn in your inner thighs, you aren't forcing your knees out enough. Bringing your feet closer together will help.

Heel-Toe Walks
For the most stable ankle, you want to work the muscles surrounding the entire joint, plantar flexors and dorsiflexors. To do it, walk on your heels for four steps, then switch to your tiptoes for four steps. Move forward, backward, and to each side for a couple of minutes.