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Thread: Rolling Ankles/feet

  1. #1
    Senior Member cooperhill's Avatar
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    Rolling Ankles/feet

    I'm wondering if anyone else has a problem with rolling their ankles. Are there exercises to strengthen muscles to prevent this? I'm generally well coordinated when hiking but I occasionally roll my ankles/feet (both right and left).

    I like to wear trail running shoes (montrails) for most hiking. I also don't use hiking poles. I suppose wearing boots and using poles might solve the problem but I don't like to use either. Any ideas?

    Thanks.
    Chris

    USFS Trails Volunteer / Adopter: West Side Trail (Mt. Chocorua), Sawyer River trail; USFS vol axe instructor; Chatham Trails Association (CTA), Trailwrights

    "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend four sharpening my ax" Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
    Senior Member Stash's Avatar
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    I had a problem with rolling ankles when I herniated a disk and temporary lost some muscle control in my feet. Although the back problem got reasonably corrected I had some residual weakness in the ankles. Adding various toe lifts to my workout routine helped... Toes on box with heels on the ground--- toe lift, place a weight on top of your toes and lift the whole foot, intentially walking side hill... Stuff like that. Get creative...
    Stash

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    I rolled my ankle once pretty badly, and went to a Dr. who sent me to a P.T.

    After the swelling went down, the P.T. had me just roll my ankle slowly and gently to both sides. At first it hurts a lot, but after a while (years now) I could do it quite well. It's been a long time since either ankle has given me problems.

    The other thing they had me do was to try to draw the alphabet with my ankle. In other words, just move it around a lot in crazy kinds of ways.
    Tom Rankin
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  4. #4
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    This thread is useful:

    http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=6587

    There are a few other good ones, but I can't find them right now.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Take up trail running. Run barefoot. Toestrike. Climbing. Squats. Basically build up the joint (and the whole hip-through-toe chain) through use that makes the muscles do the work. The alphabet's a good one too...I'm doing that for ten reps, three times a day now.

    I find that, if I'm wearing heavier boots, there's no such thing as a minor twist; it's too heavy and clumsy to pop up off the foot when it becomes obvious it's going down wrong. Lighter shoes are much more agile.

    Does it happen more often uphill or downhill, early in the day or when you're tired?

  6. #6
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    I can't find the thread, but there is also a lot you can do with your gait and footstrike. (Someone had posted a question about a year ago on rolling ankles when wearing crampons, and I posted a detailed response, but the thread seems to have disappeared; maybe it was another forum?)

    In any event, yes to poles, they help a lot. An emphatic "No" to big heavy boots. I agree with jniehof, the heavy boot makes it worse. I've been in trail runners exclusively for about 8 years now, and I roll my ankle much less often than I did in boots, even though I am a lot older. The boot puts a big unnatural platform under your foot, that acts as a lever to roll your foot over. The only boot that will really prevent ankle roll is a well fitted and fully laced plastic boot, which is basically a cast. You don't want to hike in those in the summer!

    Regarding what you can do to minimize these events while actually on the trail: Watch where you step. It sounds obvious, but it takes a lot of concentration, especially if you are moving fast. Keep your feet somewhat everted (splayed, the opposite of pigeon toed). An everted foot is much harder to roll. And make your footstrike with your foot somewhat dorsiflexed (toe up). This requires a little shorter stride, as you will be more "over" your foot on the footstrike. The dorsiflexed foot is much harder to roll.

    Good luck.

    TCD

  7. #7
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    you might borrow and try a set of poles. no shame there. at least that will help while you're recouping. poles have helped me a lot.
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    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    I find that I will roll my ankle most often when I wear heavy (stiff souled) boots. It never happens with sneakers (or whatever they or called these days) and it never happens barefoot.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete_Hickey View Post
    I find that I will roll my ankle most often when I wear heavy (stiff souled) boots. It never happens with sneakers (or whatever they or called these days) and it never happens barefoot.
    An advantage of sneakers/bare_feet over heavy boots is that when your foot/boot touches down on an uneven surface, you can sense what is happening under foot better and react more appropriately (ie use your ankle muscles to counteract the torque from an off-center contact point).

    I find it much easier to walk on uneven terrain in my light hiking boots or sneakers than with my ice climbing double boots with a full steel (rigid) shank. The double boots are a bit extreme--one cannot feel the contact point at all, only the torque on one's ankle as one applies weight at which point it is too late to react gracefully.

    The upper on these boots is stiff enough that there is little risk of spraining my ankle--walking on the uneven terrain is just awkward.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 09-10-2009 at 08:59 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    DougPaul's link over in the hip injury thread induced me to some googling which brought up these two sites:
    University of Illinois on ankle sprains
    American Family Physician article on Management of Ankle Sprains
    Both have some great exercises (that I'm going to work into my day now...) and I suspect the tables 2 and 3 exercises would be useful for strengthening the joint in general.

  11. #11
    Senior Member cooperhill's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the great tips and links. It almost always happens when heading downhill but I'm not necessarily tired when it happens.
    Chris

    USFS Trails Volunteer / Adopter: West Side Trail (Mt. Chocorua), Sawyer River trail; USFS vol axe instructor; Chatham Trails Association (CTA), Trailwrights

    "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend four sharpening my ax" Abraham Lincoln

  12. #12
    Junior Member CTMQ_Steve's Avatar
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    I have this same issue. I'm fairly tall and lanky - but also pretty coordinated - so I have to blame something.

    Do what I do: Hike a lot so you roll your ankle(s) all the time and build up a tolerance.

    I'm really only half joking.
    "If you don't know what you want... You end up with a lot you don't." ~Chuck Palahniuk

  13. #13
    Member bristlecone's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of wobble boards - excellent way to trail your muscles to respond quickly to proprioception and avoid the roll in the first place. Nice, incidentally, for skiing, to keep you above your feet and edging well. A quick search should yield many inexpensive options (or build your own) and plenty of exercises. My favorite: Touch the board to each hour of the clock, return to center each time. Work up to one leg. And, the amazing one leg squats that aren't nearly as hard as they might seem once you get practiced.

  14. #14
    Junior Member kasym's Avatar
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    I'm with CTMQ_Steve.... I "stretch em out" with lots of hikes. I roll my ankle several times per hike, and have had it cause what I'll call a "controlled collapse" a few times It never hurts though, and usually I recover from my misstep and continue on. Usually the person behind me asks "are you ok?" I guess it helps to have torn the ligaments in my right ankle as a kid. Much looser now.

    And... TCD, thanks for the tips on everted and dorsaflexed technique. I'm going to try that next time.
    "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion." -Henry David Thoreau

  15. #15
    Senior Member Little Rickie's Avatar
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    Walk/run bare foot on a sandy beach if you can.
    Walk bare foot around the house especially up and down stairs.
    Lots of calf raises (with and without weight) and standing on tip toe.
    Stand on one foot or on your toes as long as you can.
    Peace

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