How to prevent ankle injuries02 November, 2013 0 comments
How to prevent ankle injuries
Ankle injuries are among the most typical overuse injuries caused by cycling. But are they inevitable? Definitely not! Just as a consistent bad habit can bring about injury, so too can good habits promote joint health. If you tend to feel some pain in your ankle when pushing hard or conquering a climb, it is high time you tended to the health of your ankles – before things get worse. Here are a number of things you can do to minimize the chance of ankle injuries.
Increase your workload gradually
As with all overuse injuries, a most important step in prevention is not doing too much too soon. This means that you should always listen to your body and not push it too hard. It is suggested not to increase your workload by more than 10% any given week. Therefore, whether you want to increase your distance or intensity, you should always take it step by step to give your body time to adapt. If you are trying out a new workout, take it easy at first – your body will thank you for it.
Warm up properly
Before you start pushing hard, you will have to make sure that your ankles are ready for the workout ahead. Therefore, a warm up – even if short – should always be part of your routine. To warm up your ankles, you should get some slight movement into them. Taking a few minutes to do ankle circles is a great way for doing this. Standing up or lying down with bent legs and one of them crossed on top of the other, circle your ankles in both directions to warm them up.
Set the saddle height right
The wrong saddle height can cause unnecessary tension in your ankles. Therefore you should make sure that it is just right! Your leg should remain ever so slightly bent when sitting on the saddle with the foot firmly planted on the pedal at its bottom position. Here’s the thing – if your toe needs to reach downwards in this position to effectively circle the pedals, you should lower your saddle by a bit. At the lowest position, your foot should stay in a position that is parallel to the ground.
Don’t forget to stretch
Stretching after each workout will lessen the chance of getting ankle injuries. One way to do this is to stand facing a wall, and placing the ball of your foot up against the wall while the heel stays firmly on the ground. Then, gently move your chest towards the wall until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other foot. Alternatively, you can stretch using stairs. Just stand on the edge of a step and let your heels drop lower until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with the other foot.
Strengthen your ankles!
Strong ankles can resist a tougher workout without failing. Therefore, it is a good idea to incorporate ankle exercises into your routine. For example, you can work with resistance bands. Lie down on your back, set the resistance band on the ball of your foot, and grab each end with your hands. Then, stretch the leg towards the ceiling and try to push your toes up while you hold on to the resistance band.
Work on your stability
Stabilising exercises are great for strengthening your ankles. For example, try calf and shin raises. Stand up, with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then alternate between raising your toes and raising your heels, trying to maintain good balance and rise higher. Also, you can try exercises that require you to balance on one foot. If you’ve been thinking about incorporating yoga into your routine, a variety of stability exercises for your ankles are a great reason for doing that.
Don’t overuse your cycling shoes
Wearing road cycling shoes for a great distance off the bike can cause unnecessary strain for your ankles, since the soles of those shoes are not flexible. Therefore, if you’re using road cycling shoes, put them on only when you know that you’ll be mounting the bike right away if possible.
One more way to protect your ankles is to use athletic tape. If you know that you are prone to ankle injuries and are afraid you might get one easily, taping might be an option for you. This is a good strategy when you know your ankle will be getting more work than usual – for example during a race. To make sure you are using athletic tape in the correct way and that it is indeed a good option for you, it is advised to consult your doctor.
Are you prone to ankle injuries? Have you found a good way to prevent them? Share your experience in the comments!