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Head, Shoulders, Knees and........ANKLES: Ankle Health 101

People often take their ankles for granted, but these joints are actually one of the most complex joints in the body. Your ankles must bear the full weight of your body, yet stay nimble and flexible. Every step, every jump, every dance move puts the ankle through a surprising range of motion. Even when you stand quietly, hips and knees at rest, the ankles are constantly moving and making minuet adjustments to help you stay balanced.

Have you ever experienced an ankle sprain? I'm sure you have! The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates it happens 25,000 times a day. Let's break down what an ankle sprain injury actually's when you roll your foot too far inward or outward, or turn or twist your ankle. Depending on the force applied as you land, the sprain can be mild, moderate or severe. Repeated sprains creates instability in the joint due to the ankle not fully healing. Sprains can happen when you are jumping, running or simply when you are walking on uneven ground or when you lose your balance.

So how do we prevent ankle sprains and falls? Well, there are three ways: strengthen the ankles, improve ankle flexibility with stretches to release tight tendons and muscles and enhancing proprioception (the sense that tells you where your body is in space and helps you keep your balance.

Here are three exercises to help increase ankle strength and flexibility:

Ankle Pumps:

Reps: 10 per side

Sets: 1

Intensity: Light

Tempo: Slow and controlled

Rest: No rest is needed

Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your right foot a few inches off the floor. Flex your foot to point your toes toward the ceiling. Then point your foot and toes toward the ceiling. Then point your foot and toes towards the floor. That's one rep. Finish all reps, then repeat with your left leg. This completes one set.

Single-leg Stance:

Reps: 1 per side

Sets: 1-3

Intensity: Moderate to Hard

Hold: 60 secs

Rest: 30-90 secs between sets

Stand up straight with your feet together. Lift your right foot a few inches off the floor, bending your knee slightly, and balancing on your left leg. Hold for 60 seconds, then lower your foot to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg lifted. This completes one set.

Heel Raises:

Reps: 10

Sets: 1-3

Intensity: Moderate to Hard

Tempo: 3-1-3

Rest: 30-90 seconds between sets

Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and your hands at your sides. Slowly lift up on your toes so that your heels rise off the floor as high as possible. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. Exhale as you lift.

Remember, fitness starts from the ground up and doesn't have to take up too much time! When's the last time that you worked on your ankles? No time is better than RIGHT NOW! Try these exercises out and let us know what you think!

Until next time...Don't be GOOD.....BGR8!!

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