Ankle Ligament Injuries
If you have experienced any ligament injury then you will undoubtedly have scar tissue in the area around the ankle where the healing process has taken place. Ligaments have a much poorer blood supply than muscles and subsequently take longer to heal and do so to a lesser quality.
How can I regain fitness without re-injury?
An ankle ligament injury will stop you training for a considerable amount of time, and it can be a daunting process to get started again.
To regain fitness you need to do balance training to activate the muscles and ligaments around the weaker ankle, and then target your cardiovascular fitness. At no point should you train through pain that imitates your recent injury.
Start balance training by standing on one leg for up to 2 minutes. If this sounds easy just watch how your foot shakes frantically to control your body.
Do 3 sets on each leg but stop and rest if you start to feel pain in the previously injured area. If this can be done pain-free (do it every other day) then the following week progress to single leg toe touches:
- draw your belly-button into your spine
- while in a standing position, lift one foot off the floor
- bend your knee and take your opposite hand down to touch the toe of the leg you are standing on
- as you bend, you MUST ensure you load your weight backwards on to your heel.
- as you go from squat to standing position, keep your bodyweight through your heel and simultaneously squeeze your butt muscles.
- squeeze your glut as tight as possible and tuck your butt under to complete the rep.
- aim to complete 10 reps on one leg, followed by the other leg. You may find you are very unstable to start with but this will improve. When you feel your butt muscles burning it's a good sign!
IMPORTANT: if you start to get fatigue setting in through the foot and lower leg, then you may be loading through the front of your foot. Sit back on that heel!
Start with 10 reps on each leg, and aim to work up to 15 for two sets with slow, controlled movement.
Start with gentle jogging in straight lines and on even ground. Once your balance training becomes more efficient start including changes of direction in your running. Also, stretch your calf muscles EVERY DAY! This is vital for helping the scar tissue to settle properly and preventing muscle adhesions that increase risk of injury and poor flexibility.