Dainty Ankles and Jump Kicks

Last night in class I finally learned my new gyeokpa (board breaking kick) last night and it’s not easy. It’s the first one I have to do with a jump. I wish I had a good video of it to show you. Basically I stand perpendicular to the board, and jump in the air while cocking and kicking the leg closest to the target. I’m getting the hang of the kick, but my landing had my instructor nervous. See I have tiny little ankles. Dainty little things really. Even at my heaviest and when I was working out a ton they were still very dainty and delicate looking. Apparently every time I landed from one of my kicks, my instructor noticed that my ankle would “wobble”. Now, I’ve sprained both ankles before (one of them twice), but that was from rolling my foot under me in some way. Unless I do something really wrong, I’m landing pretty much flat on my foot. I had no problem with the landings yesterday, but today I’m getting little twinges that tell me that I was putting some extra stress on that particular joint. I also noticed that at the start of class when we run laps, if I push off just wrong with one foot, I get an ankle twinge that slows me down. I usually stop running and just walk until the twinge goes away.

Here’s where I could use some help. Does anyone know any exercises using nothing but my body weight/household items/free weights that I can do to boost my ankle strength and stability? Or am I going to be doomed to an ankle support during class? I’m thinking of looking up a sports doctor in the area and see what I can do to prevent injuring myself. My instructor recommended doing one-legged dips. I could start with out weight and add it gradually, but I’m not sure that will be enough. And given that I have dainty ankles, am I forever doomed to wobbly landings?

Update: Doing a little web research I landed on a fitness Q&A from Outside Magazine regarding strengthening and increasing stability in ankles. Here is what is suggested (three times a week):

1. Single leg balance: Without any support, stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Repeat six times with each leg. Begin with your eyes open, then progress to standing with your eyes closed. Once your master that, move on to standing on a slightly bent knee.

2. Toe-Heel: Sit in a high chair so that your foot comfortably hangs approximately two inches off the ground (use a stack of books on a chair to get the height set). Rhythmically tap your toe and then heel on the ground, trying to isolate all movement in the ankle. Start slow and build up speed to produce a fast but rhythmical tapping. Do 3 sets of 50 reps.

3. Side-to-Side: In the same sitting position and rhythm as Toe-Heel above, touch the outside edge of your foot on the ground and then your foot’s inside edge for one rep. Again, start slow and isolate the moment in the ankle as best your can. Speed up the rhythm as your coordination improves. Do three sets of 50 reps.

4. Wobble Board: Sit in a chair and place one foot in the center of a wobble board or Bosu platform with 360 degrees of rotation. Rotate the foot in a circle so the edge of the wobble board comes close to the floor but doesn’t touch. As your balance and coordination improves try standing on the wobble board with one leg. Do two sets of ten of the following motions for each foot: a. Forward-Backward, b. Side-to-Side c. clock-wise and counter-clockwise

Phil Astrachan is a CTS certified coach who practices physical therapy in San Francisco, California and specializes in the rehabilitation of endurance sports athletes.