A long hike can put a lot of stress on your ankles. Simply walking for a long period of time puts a lot of pressure on your ankles and feet; add to that the uneven terrain, keeping your ankles strong becomes incredibly important to prevent ankle injury while hiking for any period of time.
The ankles are very delicate and the slightest imbalance can lead to an ankle sprain. Depending on the degree of the injury, it may be impossible to walk if you have severely sprained your ankle. So before you head out on the trail be sure to have your ankle in top shape with these exercises.
Work On Your Balance
There are various exercises that can be done to improve your balance which will improve the overall strength of your ankles and help you prevent ankle injury while hiking.
Standing on One Leg
Stand on one leg while balancing yourself, you can start off doing this one each leg for 30 seconds. When you can easily do it for 30 seconds, then you can try for a minute and so on.
Want an Extra Challenge? Try keeping your eyes closed while you’re doing this exercise.
One Legged Squat
As the name suggests, simply squat, without weights, on one leg with the other leg out in front. If you need to, use a fitness ball, a chair or a table to rest your leg. Start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions and increase as they get easier.
Calf raises will work on your lower legs, calves along with your ankles. It will also help work on your balance. In case you don’t remember your middle and high school physical fitness tests, it’s a simple exercise. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and raise your heels up from the ground as high as you can go. Wait for about 10 seconds and lower them back down. You can do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. If this gets easy, use weights to increase resistance.
Work On Your Agility
Hiking on uneven terrain requires a particular kind of agility to prevent injury. The more dexterity you have in your ankles, the easier it will be to tackle whatever terrain you encounter on your hike without stumbling which, while you’re out on the trail, will help you prevent injury while you’re hiking.
The grapevine is an excellent exercise to improve agility. In this exercise, you run to one side, crossing one foot in front of the other and then back behind as you go. Go four paces to the right followed by the same thing four paces to the left. You’ll see your ankles strengthen, as well as your shins, your calves and most of the rest of your lower body.
These exercises will help strengthen your ankle overall, working on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Hiking is strenuous in itself and to assure that your ankles are ready and sprain resistant, do not forget to work them out on a regular basis.