Tip: Strengthen Your Ankles

Prevent injury, perform better. Three exercises to try out.

Ankle position can affect gait and can sometimes be worsened in people who walk or run with a pronated foot position. When a body is externally loaded with enough stress, like when you farmer's walks or loaded carries, it'll defer to its default pattern. In pronated lifters, the ankle joint and Achilles are awkwardly loaded. This can make the tendons and muscles in that region prone to burning (fatigue) and excessive soreness when unilaterally loaded (carries, split squats, etc.).

Adding some simple foot strengthening or supination drills can help someone re-learn where their feet should be. Here are a few good ones:

Straighten the ankle out by slightly supinating the foot while maintaining a "tripod" (base of the big and small toe, and the heel) on the floor.

With the leg furthest from the cable machine, perform a single-leg Pallof press while maintaining an ankle push-out. The line of pull encourages the foot of the working leg to maintain a supinated position, otherwise you'll fall inward toward the load.

Contract the intrinsic foot muscles by shortening the foot while extending the toes.

Alexander Nurse Bey is a Sports Performance coach and the co-owner of AXIS Performance + Training located in Scarborough, Ontario. He continues to share his systems for encouraging athlete vigor and high performance as a speaker and writer. You can contact Alex on his website at beyperformance.com.