The ankle joint often goes overlooked when it comes to skiing, but it remains a crucial part of the sport. This is especially true for those who have been injured outside of the ski season and are wanting to make a full rehabilitation before ski season starts. Whatever your motivation for strengthening the ankle joint for skiing, here we propose five very effective exercises you can use to achieve this goal.
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Improving your ankle strength can come hand in hand with improved balanced and stability. This is important if you’re an advanced or beginner skier as balance and stability are one of the vital physiological characteristics to feel comfortable and perform well with your ski’s on. The exercises in this list will help you develop your ankle strength and therefore improve your balance and stability.
Ankle injuries are relatively rare when it comes to skiing as the ski boots restrict so much movement, but that doesn’t mean strengthening the ankle should not be done. This is especially the case for those who have experienced ankle injuries whilst performing other activities and want to be able to feel confident when the ski season comes round.
Full body resistance training consists of using exercises that move many different movement patterns and muscle groups within one training session. This was, through performing 1-2 sessions of resistance training per week we are able to touch upon all the key muscle groups and movement patterns.
These ankle exercises could easily be added into a full body resistance training session to great effect. That way you can get all the benefits of resistance training while also solving your specific programming need of ankle reinforcement. Depending on the style of exercise you use, ankle strengthen exercises could be done in the warm up, main body, or cool down of the workout. This gives you a lot of flexibility to how you want to add these to your full body resistance training sessions.
If you don’t have the time or are not interested in doing the more comprehensive full body resistance training. Then adding in a specific ankle strengthening circuit to your week could be a great way to approach the process of building strength in the ankle. See below a sample stand alone circuit specific for ankle strengthening.
Complete 3 rounds
The DB quad dominant reverse lunge is a relatively challenging exercise that is designed for more advanced trainees, but is extremely effective at strengthening both the ankles and the knees. The exaggerated knee flexion (bending) requires and builds both strength and flexibility in the knee and ankle joint, making it a go to ankle strengthening exercise for skiing.
The Goblet kickstand squat is a much more beginner friendly exercise that is also very effective at strengthening the ankle joint. It also requires a great deal of knee flexion and dorsiflexion from the ankle joint, moving through these ranges of motion with load will do wonders for strengthening these joints.
Heels Walk is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles around the ankle joint that are being used constantly while skiing. This exercise is both simple and easily accessibility, yet it can poise a big challenge for some trainees, many of my clients have struggled to grasp this exercise as it requires a previously untouched movement pattern. Take your time finding your grove here, it may take multiple attempts.
Ankling is a great way to use repeated bounding to build strength and endurance in the ankle joint. This exercise is typically performed by runners, but skiers looking to make a full rehabilitation can also find it of great benefit. Be wary of using this exercise too early in your rehab process as it will put a lot more pressure on the ankle than the other exercises in this list.
Tip Toe March is a perfect exercise to build strength in the ankles when coming back from injury. For those of use who spend too much time with shoes on and are never barefoot it can also be beneficial for strengthening the foot. When performing this exercise try and be on the tip of the toe as much as possible, with a very aggressive planter flexion.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.