Brace for ankle impact?
January 4, 2012 7:13 PM   Subscribe

What can I do for a sporadically weak ankle?

you are not my doctor.

About 8 years ago, I sprained my ankle very badly. It's never really recovered, and due to lack of insurance, there hasn't been any real follow up care after it was confirmed that I didn't break the thing.

Anyway. My ankle makes hilarious popping sounds when I rotate it and it's weak. It has been known to give out and land me on my butt. It's better when I'm going to the gym regularly- but lately it's been so iffy that I'm afraid to get on the machines. You can see where this is going.

I was going to go and pick up a ankle brace, but is it going to be a waste? And if my ankle does that "im just not going to work for half a second" thing will a brace do it's job enough to keep me from flying off the really tall ski machine? And while we're at it- what kind of brace would be helpful?

Any other things you can recommend would be awesome. I'd even take suggestions for exercises that I can incorporate to buff up my ankle would be welcomed.
posted by Blisterlips to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
try walking in sand/loose earth, in boots. sit on the edge of a bench and trace out the letters of the alphabet with your feet.
posted by facetious at 7:16 PM on January 4, 2012

Calf exercises help my weak ankles. You can do them anywhere, just stand, lift up to your tiptoes, then rest. Do them in a bunch of different stances (feet together, toes together, heels together) and you will work all around the calves.
posted by xingcat at 7:21 PM on January 4, 2012

I have loose ankles. I found that a combination of swimming, losing some weight and making sure I never wore shoes that were wearing out on the outsides [I tend to walk on the outsides of my feet and would wear down my shoes that way and then roll right off of them] made the problem almost go away. I was surprised but it did work.
posted by jessamyn at 7:24 PM on January 4, 2012

Haha, this is the second time in a few weeks I've linked to this NYT article which will give you exercises including brushing your teeth while balancing on one foot.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:28 PM on January 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

Seconding calf raises.
posted by unixrat at 7:30 PM on January 4, 2012

(Thanks, vegartanipla for that article. I hadn't been told about those exercises, and I'm going to try them along with the calf raises.)
posted by xingcat at 7:38 PM on January 4, 2012

I wear at least ankle height docs, laced firmly, at all times. That may sound like I'm coddling them, but the longer I go without rolling them, the stronger they get (ie every time it spontaneously gives way, it's like it stretches/gets worse, and is more likely to give way soon after).

I went from school shoes to boots, and I am so, so not going back.

Also, that article is useful.

Finally, for the quieter clicking noises at least, I know several people, including myself, who had joints quiet down after taking fish oil. Don't know if that helped in any way other than audibly, but it seems like it'd go together, and was definitely less disconcerting. (A friend who was taking halibut oil for vitamin D deficiency noticed it first. They used to have wrists that would creak loudly anytime they rotated it, enough that when they excitedly said, "Look at this!" and rotated their wrist while nothing happened, I realised right away).

Oil for squeaky joints. Who knew?
posted by Elysum at 7:55 PM on January 4, 2012

Get a postural assessment done by a competent PT or osteopath. Ankles don't just collapse for no reason, nor do the issues that caused them to do so spontaneously resolve with X amount of general exercise (and especially not if machines, braces or other dysfunction-perpetuating devices are involved).

It's likely you have a lack of stability in the joint, which often co-occurs with joint issues elsewhere in the foot, knee, hip and/or back. The solution is some combination of strengthening and stretching certain muscles; exactly which ones depends on your current postural situation, which a trained professional should be able to apprise you of through assessment.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:08 PM on January 4, 2012

I always had weak ankles and then sprained first one, then the other, playing soccer. Beyond the specific rehab I did, I was told to basically stand on one leg any time I had the chance, or stand on tiptoes. For bonus points, do it on soft surfaces (like a cushion on the floor). I also remember the 'trace the alphabet with your toes' thing mentioned above.
posted by jacalata at 11:48 PM on January 4, 2012

If you can scrape together enough cash for a visit to a physiotherapist, they'll be able to give you exercises specific to your anatomy.

I sprained my ankle last year and the exercises recommended were like those above: balance on one foot (the bad one), balance on one foot on tip toe, and kind of tip yourself over while on tiptoe and recover.
posted by looli at 12:27 AM on January 5, 2012

The exercises people are recommending will help. I broke my ankle and tore multiple ligaments 6 years ago. Wore a brace like this one to hike and play soccer for quite a few years after both surgery and PT. That and or tightly laced boots made a difference but religiously doing PT for over a year - months with a therapist and then routinely hitting the gym on my own was necessary to really get back to a new normal. I would definitely get a brace - the lace-up style I linked is inexpensive. You want something that has stays in the side not just elastic/neoprene I'd guess - it will give more support. If you have a decent sporting goods store near you they'll have a range of them for less than $25.
posted by leslies at 5:09 AM on January 5, 2012

As someone with horribly weak, pronating ankles who has injured them and reinjured them playing soccer, I agree the exercises described above are excellent. I just wanted to add one more that's not been mentioned: try standing on one foot (the weak one) with your eyes closed. Injuring your ankle can have a detrimental effect on balance, which can lead to reinjury. Try to work your way up to standing on the weak leg, with eyes closed, for one full minute. If this is easy for you, extend the opposite arm.

I have one ankle that's worse than the other, and balancing on that leg is still significantly harder for me.
posted by pecanpies at 5:35 AM on January 5, 2012

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