• Anessa Madera

Is this your hidden kryptonite?

Many of us, without even releasing, lack sufficient foot/ankle stability to safely participate in the types of activities we really want to. We may feel the effects of this instability further up the chain - knees, lower back or hip discomfort when really it is our feet and ankles we need to look at.

Foot and ankle balance can be a really under-trained skill, yet so crucial to your overall stability. Early detection and proactive remedial work can save you from injury in your thirties - fifties as well as preparing you for greater stability as you age.

So if you are feeling that discomfort in your hips or knees, keep reading about what we would be looking at to help provide you with some sustainable results.

How can our ankles and feet become unstable in the first place?

  • Spending a lot of time in very restrictive footwear that squeezes all your toes together or keeps your foot in an unnatural posture; like a stiletto for women, or even pointed shoes for men

  • Habitual movement patterns like over or under pronating your feet as you walk

  • Even an ankle sprain that you have completely forgotten about could be a major factor, especially if it wasn’t rehabilitated at the time

  • Lack of strength training the ankle and foot muscles can also be an issue as we age - and let’s be honest, who trains their ankles and feet??

So this is why we want to look at a full-body assessment when you come in with lower body discomfort or pain. We will look at how you load and what happens to your ankles and feet as you squat or move your weight from one side to the other.

The types of activities that can start to become problematic when we lack ankle and foot stability are any that involve shifting your weight from one foot to the other, balancing on one foot and jumping type movements. These movements are involved in many sports; soccer or tennis and running, especially on uneven ground can be risky if this instability is not corrected. Even daily tasks like going up or downstairs, bending and reaching for things can be compromised when you are not well balanced on your feet.

The underlying issue comes down to proprioception; your awareness of the position and movement of your body. This is the interaction of your nervous system with your joints and muscles i.e. your mind to body connection. As mentioned earlier, this is often something that isn’t restored properly after injury or trained in general. This is very different to flexibility or strength training; it is a separate skill that needs to be targeted specifically.

Obviously, if you suffer from a feeling of instability in either or both of your ankles, have repeatedly sprained your ankles it would be smart to come in for an assessment so we can discuss how remedial treatments & strength exercises can put you in a more secure place. But don’t neglect your ankles and feet if you are feeling pain in your lower back, knees or legs in general as this may be stemming from a hidden instability.

At Muscle Medicine, our therapists can take your ankles and feet through a detailed movement assessment to narrow down exactly how and where you might be lacking stability. Once we have gathered this information there are a variety of different stability drills that can start to build your proprioception; that mind to muscle connection that is so integral to our dynamic balance and movement efficiency.

So please don't take your ankles and feet for granted, they are so important in your movement future. Ask your therapist for some stability and strength exercises to help you protect your future through movement.