I'm doing it wrong?
April 26, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

I think using an elliptical machine is causing tightness on the outsides of my ankles. What stretches should I do and what should I watch out for in my form while exercising?

Mid-20s, female, reasonably healthy.

I stretch after working out and usually do a standing quad stretch, a butterfly stretch, and a stretch that I don't know a name for (sitting and touching the toes of one leg at a time, stretching the calf and the back of the knee.) I also do yoga and pilates occasionally, so I get some more thorough stretching in at those times. I almost certainly need a better stretching regimen, and especially want to include something that will help the tightness in my ankles, particularly the outsides. I also get some tightness in the arches of my feet occasionally. There's not a lot of extra space for stretching at my gym; that doesn't help.

I wonder if my form is creating this problem. I try to keep my toes and knees pointed forward, trying not to roll the feet too far in our out, and not keeping all my weight exclusively on the balls or heels of my feet. What might I be doing unconsciously that could be straining the outsides of my ankles? Another possibility is that I'm just too short (5'0") for the machines?

I buy whatever running shoes are on sale and feel comfortable and supportive. There is a local running store that does the whole "videotape you running on a treadmill and recommend shoes based on your stride" thing, but since I'm not actually running, would their analysis be relevant (and worth some extra cost)?

My goals are weight loss and overall fitness, I'm not anyone's definition of an athlete. I'm trying to diversify my workouts, but I like the elliptical and it's convenient to pop over to the gym for 45 minutes and not have to think about it, so it's become my default semi-daily workout and I want to make sure I'm doing it properly.
posted by doift to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Stretching doesn't prevent injury.
posted by halogen at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2009


Some machines allow you to adjust the angle of the foot pedals. If I don't adjust mine correctly, sometimes my toes even go numb (which isn't good).
posted by umbĂș at 12:00 PM on April 26, 2009


Sounds like the peroneus muscles, this is the classic stretch. Otherwise take a look at the chart of lower body muscles on the wikipedia page and tell us what you think hurts.

Sounds like you've made the mistake of increasing your volume too rapidly and certain parts of your body are lagging in their recovery between workouts. "It's become my default semi-daily workout".

Cutting the number of minutes you spend on the ellipitical machine in half, stretching, seeking soft tissue work (massage, deep tissue, ART, myofascial, trigger point), using a foam roller and omega-3 fatty acids are several modalities to treat this issue.

In terms of weight loss, and overall fitness the research suggests that intervals are far superior to what you're doing. A sample interval workout on the ellpitcal would be 3 minutes at 90% of your max speed, 1 minute "rest", and repeat 3-5 times. As this becomes less challenging move it up to 4-5 minutes of max speed.
posted by zentrification at 12:10 PM on April 26, 2009


Ask someone to watch you from the back, while you use the machine for a few minutes. I will bet you anything that the foot pads (? rests? whatever those things are that your feet are on) are set too far apart for your hip/knee/leg structure. Imagine your footprints on a beach when walking, and then imagine the pattern your footprints would leave if you walked on sand using the same form as you do on an elliptical. Ellipticals force many people (especially shorter ones) to walk with a wider stance than they normally would, because there is a limit to how close the foot pad thingies can be to each other without crashing into each other on every stride.

If you don't find relief with a good stretching regimen, you may have to switch to something that allows you to place your feet down where it feels natural - like a treadmill.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:11 PM on April 26, 2009


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