Tag Archives: balance training

Improve Your Ankle Strength and Stability

24 Oct

Ankle injuries are among the most prevalent of all sports injuries.  Development of ankle strength and stability is important for most sports, especially those that require running, jumping, lateral movement, and quick change of direction.  Athletes who play basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball (among others) are examples of those who routinely use these movement patterns.  Ankle strength and stability (balance) training can be easily incorporated into your training regimen.

Strengthen Your Ankles

Calf raises (heel raises) are effective exercises because they strengthen the muscle and connective tissue around the foot and ankle.  Perform them on a calf block (you can also use weight plates) to increase the range of motion required by the exercise.  Position the feet so that the front half of each foot is elevated.  Push down on the ball of the foot while lifting the heel.  Find a weight that challenges you through the suggested number of repetitions.  At ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING CENTER, we alternate among four (4) different variations of this exercise:

  • Up and down pause.  Lift and hold in the “up” position for one (1) full second; lower and hold in the “down” position for two (2) full seconds (don’t allow heels to touch the floor).  That’s one (1) repetition.  Perform three (3) sets of fifteen (15) repetitions, with one (1) minute rest between sets.
  • Single-leg.  Perform three (3) sets of fifteen (15) repetitions (steady pace; no pause), each leg, with one (1) minute rest between sets.
  • Rapid Pace.  Perform three (3) sets of twenty-five (25) repetitions (no pause on the up or down phase), with one (1) minute rest between sets.
  • Isometric.  Lift and hold in the up position for thirty (30) seconds.  Perform three (3) sets, with one (1) minute rest between sets.

Balance Training

Most of our athletes end their training sessions on the Airex Balance Pad.  It’s a rectangular foam pad, about 2.5″ thick (pictured).  Not to worry if you don’t have access to a balance pad.  Simply use a bath towel (prepare it by folding it in half, three times, to create a raised, unstable surface).  Balance training should be done in socks (or bare feet) to eliminate the “stabilizing” effect of the soles of your shoes.  Keep your upper body “quiet.”  Don’t use your arms for balance; keep them down at your sides.  Start by balancing one (1) minute on each foot, and gradually increase (15 seconds at a time) to 2-3 minutes per foot.  Perform this exercise 2-3 times per week.  This exercise works by “teaching” your ankle to adapt to instability (a roll), and has demonstrated the potential to reduce athletes’ ankle injuries up to 40%.


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