Bulletproof Ankles For Better Hiking & Walking
Since we got back to the USA, we’ve been doing a lot of hiking.
Hiking is one of my favourite ways to combine my movement needs (walking) with my community needs (hanging out with friends) with my nature needs (fresh air, green trees, long vistas and more!). Plus it’s free and super fun.
One thing I’ve been noticing though is how much having strong, mobile ankles is important for hiking. As soon as the trail is sloping – up, down or sideways – there’s a lot of load going straight into the ankle joint!
That means that working on ankle mobility is a great way to improve your hiking experience! This is also great for improving balance and decreasing falling risk even if you never go hiking.
What Is Ankle Mobility?
What is mobility, exactly? It’s a bit different than flexibility and it’s helpful to understand the difference.
Flexibility means your ability to get into a shape without any work on your part – say if you grabbed your ankle to see how far it could move. It’s passive – no muscles had to do anything to get you there.
Mobility means your ability to get into a shape by using the relevant muscles to move you. It requires both strength and control throughout your range of motion. The more mobile you are, the more you can maximize your movement potential safely.
Having good ankle mobility means that when you’re hiking on sloped, uneven surfaces, your ankles will have greater ability to cope with the terrain. It also means that you’ll have better balance and less risk of falling or sprains, whether you’re hiking or just living your normal life.
So how do you create ankle mobility?
Improve Your Ankle Mobility
You can start improving your functional range of ankle mobility today with this simple exercise, called Ankle CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations). I’ve been doing these every day for the last 4 months and can definitely feel the difference – my ankle movement is smoother and I feel more sure-footed and confident when I hike.
I recommend doing 2 sets in each direction, daily, forever. Think of it like flossing for your ankles. It takes less than a minute and it pays off big time in joint health, strength and physical capacity.
Ankle CARs are part of my daily morning routine and I love them – but how about you? How did that feel for you? Any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
(If you liked them, try out my Joints For Life mobility course – CARs for all your major joints and in-depth instructions so you can create your own daily CARs practice).
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Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body - and she's always happy to chat about it. She's on the road right now, travelling the world and moving in as many ways as possible. When she's not out exploring or working on her movement practice, you can probably find her hanging on some monkey bars.