As a biker, the continuation of your training and development depends on your ability to remain injury free. Unfortunately, cyclists will often face predictable patterns of injury like ankle injuries. Many of us can probably remember a time when we sprained, twisted, or even broke our ankle while cycling. Optimum training is not possible if you have dysfunctional tissue or joints, which could make you more susceptible to injury. With a limited range of motion, repetitive movement can occur in one plane, causing this dysfunction.
To reduce the risk of ankle injury, you need exercises that can help strengthen and stabilize the lower leg. Joint or tissue mobilization and strength training play an important role in the prevention of ankle injuries. Can spinning workouts help you may ask? Besides burning more calories within less time, spin workout routines are designed to help build strength as well. As such, these routines can help you lose weight more rapidly, improve your overall health and function, and reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Even so, several other practices and exercises can help you avoid ankle injuries while biking. Read on to find out more.
This is the body's ability to become fully aware of its place in space. Apart from increasing your performance, proprioception could help reduce the risk of sport-related injuries. When you are moving into a position that might sprain your ankle, for instance, increased proprioception can alert you to the danger. Proprioceptive training involves exercises that help increase your awareness and give you superior balance, allowing you to control your body more effectively.
For optimum performance, a physically active body has to achieve balance and stability around each of the active joints. Ligaments connect the bones to one another, providing much of the joint's stability, whereas, tendons connect muscles to bones, enabling movement at the joints.
When it comes to the ankle, the ligaments that connect the bones to one another are necessary for proper function. However, a number of muscles help support your ankle when you are cycling or doing any type of physical activity.
Besides being in constant contact with the ground, the ankles are one of the most used joints when cycling. Your ankles and the surrounding muscles are subjected to a lot of stress. If these muscles are weak, several other joints in the body are bound to suffer. You can withstand a great amount of force before sustaining an injury if your ankle musculature is strong. As such, building strength and proprioception in ankle muscles improves performance and helps prevent injury.
Apart from reducing the likelihood of ankle injuries, you can help prevent chronic conditions like Achilles tendonitis and shin splints by strengthening your lower leg muscles. Try the following exercises at least thrice a week or before cycling to avoid ankle injuries.
2. Balance training
Balance and catch
Stand on one leg and hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat while standing on the other leg. Keep alternating legs and work your way up to a minute per leg. Try to throw and catch a ball while standing on one leg. You’ll need a partner for this part of the exercise. Make sure you throw the ball high, low, to the right, and to the left. Perform at least three sets of 30 throws each.
One leg mini squats
Stand on one leg and do a half squat. Do ten reps with the opposite leg stretched out front, another ten reps with the leg out to the side, and ten reps with the leg behind. Repeat three times for each leg.
This exercise strengthens your ankles and your entire lower body as well. Stand on one foot and bend the standing knee slightly. Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds. You will probably start to shake the longer you hold, an indication that your muscles are actually working. However, you can control your ankles to reduce the shaking.
3. Resistance band training
You can strengthen the ankle using a thera-band for resistance training, which can involve the inversion, eversion, dorsiflexion, and plantar flexion exercises. All of these exercises produce a resisted range of motion. You can find thera-bands in any medical supply store. When you’re exercising, put it on the top of the foot. You need to curl your toes after each movement in order to work the internal muscles. Perform at least three sets of 20 reps in every direction.
4. Calf raises
The calf raise exercise is effective in strengthening the muscles surrounding your ankles. It also trains your ankles to maintain control whenever the body shifts weight. Make sure you’re standing with your feet set about hip-width apart. With your weight shifted onto your toes, raise your heels off the ground slowly. Prevent your ankles from rolling out by keeping them in a neutral position.
Calf raises should also be done while seated. By doing this exercise from a standing and seated position, you will strengthen the calf muscles as well as the Achilles tendon. Perform three sets of 20 raises.
5. Shin raises
This exercise is almost similar to the calf raise. Stand with your feet set about hip-width apart. Lift your toes off the ground instead of your heels. Move your toes up and down, maintaining good control to keep your toes and ankles from rolling in. This exercise helps strengthen your ankles and the surrounding muscles.
6. Plyometric workouts
You can also strengthen your ankles by doing plyometric workouts. This training technique employs jumping type movements to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankles, making them more explosive. Each of the following exercises needs to be performed 10-15 times daily.
Standing squat jumps
Start from a quarter squat position. Jump as high as you can and try to land softly.
Start in a lunge position with one leg in front of the other. Jump up and switch legs mid-air. You should have the opposite foot forward when landing.
Take large bounding steps on your toes, moving at about half your maximum running speed. Every repetition should cover 50 feet at the very least.
The most common response to injury is not preventive, but reactive. People often train without proper maintenance. Only when injuries arise do they seek physical therapy and strength training. The exercises listed above aim to promote strength and mobilization, ensuring proper movement of the ankle to help prevent injury.