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Zeke 01-21-2014 04:25 PM

Weak/Rolling Ankles as an English Rider
I've been riding for roughly 16 years, bouncing back and fourth between western and english disciplines. Last week I started taking formal lessons again for the first time in about 4 years but I've only been on a riding hiatus since last September. My trainer is having me start with lots and lots of standing out of my tack to build my balance up and working towards a strong lower leg and half seat position. Today it caused some concerns :?

Has anyone else suffered from an ankle that hurts along the outside, think right above that circle bone projection on the outside of your foot, and makes putting weight on the outside edge of your foot seem impossible? I suffered through the workout as much as I could and when I got off had slight trouble walking. If I didn't concentrate on keeping my weight to the inside as I took a step my ankle would practically collapse and roll to the outside. I'm sure I could conjure up a diagram if need be, sorry lol!

Is this just weakness? Would the holy grail exercise of calf raises help? Anyone with any suggestions please!!

Zeke 01-21-2014 04:35 PM I sit in my desk chair and try to do a seated calf raise my weaker ankle is having a hard time :( no pain, just rolls outwards instead of lifting straight up.

Saddlebag 01-21-2014 05:56 PM

The best person to talk to is a ballet teacher. She/he may be able to help you with exercises.

Zeke 01-22-2014 12:03 PM

I don't exactly have access to a ballet teacher, as good of an idea as that is.

After some searching online I found a couple of exercises that I am starting to implement into my day, I'll put the link below. One nice thing is a few can be done at my desk at work which is nice. Always looking for ways to keep moving, even just a little bit, without my co-workers thinking I'm crazy.

Strengthen Your Ankles - wikiHow
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BlueSpark 01-22-2014 01:21 PM

I have weak ankles, and multiple severe injuries to each hasn't helped. Doing a lot of standing in the stirrups would kill me. I think you need to get into it a little more slowly.

Zeke 01-22-2014 01:28 PM

I'm thinking all the standing in the tack is the cause too. Luckily my trainer seemed ok with me working on sitting trot without stirrups as a break for my ankles. The trainer and I are very new to each other but I'll be sure to try talking about maybe not standing *too* much at my next lesson. Just hope this doesn't mean jumping isn't for me, that would be a bummer, trying not to jump to that conclusion though.
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Amba1027 01-22-2014 01:42 PM

I can give you a list of exercises when I get home, if you'd like. I have really bad ankles as well, and had to go through a lot of pt last summer for a bad sprain. I learned a lot of great exercises.
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Zeke 01-22-2014 06:29 PM

I'll take any help I can Amba thanks. I've never actually sprained my ankle *knock on wood* and they rarely hurt, so maybe I'm over reacting. But carefully strengthening might help me anyways.

livelovelaughride 01-23-2014 12:26 PM

How exactly are you using your feet, while you are standing in the tack? My trainer has me using the ball of the foot (60%) with the rest of the weight distributed on the supporting toes (40%) give or take. I recall me using the wrong part of my foot (the outside) to support my weight - and that became a bad habit I had to break.

It sounds as if you may have strained some of the supporting ligaments or tendons. Calf raising exercise won't be of much help - I would suggest standing on a wobble board to focus strengthening and proprioception to the ankle stabilizers.
Wobble boards can be made of wood, similiar to a tilt board, or a round air filled cushion or disc (SitFit) that you can place one or both feet on. If you have really bad ankles, try standing on a sofa cushion or pillow. All you really need to use is a soft, unstable surface. Do it in front of a mirror so you can see your posture. Stand up, don't look down, and feel your ankles quiver slightly as they try and maintain their position. You may feel tired quickly, that's ok. Repeat several times; you can do that 2 or 3 times a day. This will also affect the stabilizers higher up (which is a good thing) at the sides of the hip.

Another good one for ankles: with your shoe on, put your toe in a loop of rubber tubing that is anchored at ground level. Lift your toes: up, left, and right, for 10-15 repetitions. Sit in a chair, and work only from the level of your ankle, no need to lift with your knee or thigh. Hope this helps!

Zeke 01-23-2014 04:26 PM

My trainer has me standing up at the beginning of the ride to ultimately stretch out my heel and to work on building my balance up. Last lesson I spent roughly 10 mins up in a half seat after a lap standing straight up in the tack. Coming from Western it's been years since I've had to hold myself up this way, so I'm afraid I'm more terrible at it then I'd like to admit. I did notice that my weight was rolling to the outside edge of my foot, causing my lower leg to bow almost. However by the time I came to this realization I was already feeling strain in the muscle that runs up the outside of my leg, trying to put more weight towards the inside of my foot hurt and wasn't going so hot. It's definitely something I'll watch out for going forward.

I have never heard to carry all my weight on the front half of my foot as you describe, always that my weight should be rooted into my heels. It's been years since I've had problems keeping my heels down, so I'm thinking this is a go to warm-up for the trainer that I will have to discuss with her. If it causes me problems I'm hoping we'll agree on another way to warm up and build my balance back up.

Thank you for the tips on balancing on a squishy surface, I can give that a try!

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