Ankle and foot sprains are the most common significant injuries that people experience while hiking. Add the additional weight of a full or heavy backpack and it makes ankle strength training exercises all the more important.
Of course, when I go hiking with my toddler, I inevitably am going to be carrying her for at least some of the hike. On rough, rocky terrain the added 34 pounds of my daughter, plus water, snacks, jackets, diapers, wipes, etc. brings the load I’m carrying to nearly 40pounds. This is a significant amount of additional weight, even for the most experienced backpacker, so I have realized the absolute necessity to wear a good supportive hiking boot and to do strengthening and balancing exercises. Although I realize that I need to do these exercises to help prevent injury, I like many other people work sedentary jobs for a majority of the day. What I have found is with a little creativity and little fore thought, I can do quite a few ankle and calf strengthening exercises for hiking, at different times through out my average day.
While at work I can…
- Trace the letters of the alphabet with my toes while sitting at my computer. To be honest, you can’t see my feet while i’m working in my cubicle so I take my shoes off and do this.
- Balance on one foot for about 30 seconds while making copies or talking to associates.(work related discussion of course) You will sometimes get funny looks, but I’m sure you can be discreet if you really want to.
- Do a few sets of calf raises. Same thing as above…It’s amazing how mant opportunities you will find through out your day to do these things if you really think about it.
- I can do forward jumps by placing a string on the ground and jumping forward, springing off of both feet. Don’t try to go too far right away.
- Jumping rope is way more enjoyable to me than using one of those big rubber bands and I believe it helps improve your balance as well.
- Skipping rope is a fun way to get mobile while jumping rope. My oldest can follow me around the yard. We’re still working on timing of one jump with my 2 year old, but it won’t be long.
Just don’t over do any of these before a hike and with daily repetition you will notice a considerable difference in ankle strength, balance and if you imagine you’re outdoors while doing some of these, an improved mental state of being…