We rarely think about how important our ankles are in ensuring that we maintain an upright posture. But think about it, your ankles are part of walking, standing, running, transitioning from sitting to standing and so much more!

If you have had damage to your ankle previously, you are 20-40% more likely to progress to chronic ankle instability (CIA) which means you have pain and ankle joint instability. CIA can be divided into mechanical ankle instability and functional ankle instability.

Your ankles are the base that holds you up. In fact, for you to weight-bear through your legs and adjust lower body movements when standing, walking, and running, you need your ankles functioning optimally.

Here are the keys to good ankle health:

1) Balance:

Balance through your ankles can maintain your center of gravity when you are upright and not moving, and even when you are moving through different postures. An ankle strategy helps you to maintain your balance by using the surrounding muscles in your ankle to keep you upright. If your balance shifts or you stand on one leg, the ankle strategy is recruited first to maintain your balance.

2) Strength:

Ankle strength can often be overlooked unless you are experiencing pain in that area. Strengthening your ankles has the following benefits:

  • Prevention of ankle sprains
  • Reducing the likelihood of developing Achilles and tibialis posterior tendinopathy post injury
  • Protecting other joints such as your knees and hips
  • Increased your ability to walk in different types of shoes
  • Improvement in running stride and athletic performance


3)  Mobility

The ankle has four movements, dorsiflexion (toes up towards you), plantarflexion (toes down away from you), inversion (bottom of foot directed inwardly), and eversion (bottom of the foot directed outwardly). Ankle mobility requires a combination of strength and flexibility in the ankle. Good ankle mobility can reduce the risk of ligament injuries in the knee. It can also prevent the weakening of the muscles in the hips and knees.

It is safe to say, our ankles really are our anchors. From day-to-day activities to athletic performance, our ankles provide us with a stable base to hold us up. Try to incorporate these three key tools in your training to improve your optimal ankle health.

For more information about improving your ankle mobility, strengthening and balance, contact one of our physiotherapists or biokineticists for assistance.