When you want to strengthen a part of your body, you usually hit the gym and lift some weights or do a bunch of crunches. The problem is that most people only know how to improve certain muscle groups, like their arms, legs and abs. But what if the problem you are dealing with is housed in your ankles? How can you go about strengthening your weak ankles? We explain the underlying problem that is causing your weak ankles, and how you can make them strong again in this blog.
What’s Causing My Weak Ankles
Weak ankles tend to lead to more frequent ankle sprains and balance issues, so you can see why having them can be problematic. In the vast majority of cases, ankle weakness is caused by a previous injury to the ankle. If you suffered an ankle fracture or one or more ankle sprains in the past, you may be at risk for weakened ankles.
When you suffer a significant injury to your ankle in which it rolls in one direction or absorbs a great deal of force, that stress is displaced onto your lateral (outside) and medial (inside) ankle ligaments. These ligaments sit on either side of your ankle and provide it with the support it needs to keep your foot stable and functioning properly. When they become injured or damaged, they can’t stabilize the foot as easily.
To better picture this, we always use the analogy of a straw. If you pull a straw out of its package and stand it upright on a table, you can put a decent amount of downward pressure on the straw and it will remain stable and upright. This represents a healthy ankle ligament. Now, bend the straw in the middle and stand it back upright. When you try to put downward pressure on it again, you’ll notice that you can’t put as much force on the straw before it collapses in on the area you bent. This represents an ankle ligament that has been injured that can no longer support as much stress as it could before the injury.
Over time, if you suffer a couple of ankle injuries, your ankle ligaments will start to become like the bent straw – unable to shoulder as much stress. When the ligaments are overstressed, your ankles will roll, which can lead to more sprains. Unstable or weak ankles can be problematic because weak ankles make you more likely to roll your ankles, and rolling your ankles only serves to make your ankles weaker. It can be tough to break the cycle.
Treating Weak Ankles
Fortunately, treating weak ankles is not all that difficult if you create a focused plan to address the problem. They aren’t just going to heal on their own; you need to develop a targeted treatment plan to not only allow the injured ligaments to heal, but to restrengthen them to pre-injury condition.
So how is this done? First, consider setting up an appointment with an ankle and foot specialist. They’ll be able to take a closer look at your ankles and diagnose you with what’s known as “ankle instability.” Ankle instability is one of the most common conditions Dr. Silverman sees in his office, and he’s more the capable of finding a solution for your situation.
He’ll begin with some conservative care methods, which usually involves rest, over-the-counter pain relievers and targeted physical therapy. A number of patients respond well to physical therapy sessions and notice an improvement in their ankles in a couple of weeks. However, if your ligament damage is more severe, the best option may be a minimally invasive operation. Dr. Silverman will make a small incision and artificially strengthen the ligaments so that they are tight and stable. Learn more about the procedure in this short one-minute video he produced explaining the operation.