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Fitness/Health, Misc.

CO 14ers, Ankle injuries, and how you can prevent them

Beautiful, amazing, fantastic weekend with Keri in the Roaring Fork Valley this past weekend.  We headed out to hike/climb our first 14er of the year, La Plata (Sawatch Range), after work on Friday and camped out at trailhead which is just off Independence Pass going to Aspen.  We were the first group on the trail at 5AM, which led to our undoing; we had amazing pace and reached the false summit around 8AM, but the wind was as wicked as I’ve seen in Colorado.  I am a big guy and after it knocked me down twice I decided to call it and we headed back down without summiting the beast.   La Plata isnt very technically dificult, but I figured the risk outweighed the reward and the mountain isnt going anywhere.

Keri descending the switchbacks


It was frustrating not to summit, but Keri reminded me that the journey is just as important as the destination and she is completely right (as always).  We got in an amazing 8.5 mile hike in the high country, were surrounded by breath-taking sights (the Columbines were EVERYWHERE), and got to recharge our batteries in a truly magical spot.  We spent the rest of the weekend in Aspen and the valley, kicking back and enjoying ourselves with her family and friends.

Ascending La Plata

Oh yeah, ankle injuries… I rolled my left ankle a week back and have been rehabing/resting it like mad, so this weekend was a great test for it and got me to think of an article I posted for our office blog awhile back in August 2011.  Enjoy!

Runners, field athletes, even sedentary folks can and often do experience sprained and rolled ankles.  The are as inevitable as death and taxes.  Most times rolled ankles are mild and can be treated with PRICE (protect, rest, ice, compression, elevation), but some times they are Grade II or  III with ligament damage and much instability (and possible avulsion fracture of lateral malleolus).  If there is significant bruising, swelling, and you are unable to bear weight a referral to an orthopedist may be necessary as well as x-rays.

The tendency for ankle injuries are high, BUT so is ability to strengthen and stabilize the ankle joint to prevent (re)injury.  I am going to focus on preventative care so if you have ALREADY injured your ankle come to the office to begin rehabilitation as well as recieve  Active Release Technique which will significantly decrease recovery time and pain.  The following exercises should be done barefoot to increase sensory and proprioception (spatial awareness), as well as strengthening the many muscles in the foot.

  1. 1-legged standing with opposite leg circles- Keeping your center of gravity over the planted leg with slight knee bend, perform small circles with the opposite leg.  Start with 10 circles each way and progress to 3 sets of 10 each way.  You will be suprised by how fatiguing this is.  After you have mastered this, advance to standing on a wobble board and performing the exercise.  There are many types of wobble boards to choose from, in the office we use an inflatable wobble pad (around $20 at sporting goods stores)
  2. 1- legged dead lift- standing on planted foot, slowly flex the hip while keeping the spine neutral and try to touch the floor with your hands.  This is a progression exercise and you should feel a stretch in your glutes and hamstrings.  Again start with a set of 10 each leg and progress to 3 sets of 10.  After mastering this, progress to using a wobble board with this exercise.
  3. 1-legged chop- standing on right leg and holding a light/moderate weight at your right side, slowly lift the weight over your head to the left.  Important to keep your core engaged and the weight close to your body.  Perform 10 reps and switch legs.  Progress to 3 sets of 10 on each leg.
  4. Begin hiking/trail running on uneven ground to strengthen the ankle joint.  Not only is this more fun than the treadmill, but will dramatically help stabilize your ankles.

Here is a video of myself (briefly) demonstrating the first 3 exercises :


These are just a few things you can do to prevent rolled ankles which can become a very chronic problem.  If you HAVE injured your ankles in the past or currently experience pain it is important to see someone to make sure it is not progressively getting worse.


About Dr. Jeff Stripling

Hey everyone, I am a Rolla, Missouri-based Active Release Technique (ART) chiropractor who specialises in musculoskeletal injuries, sports injuries, and active physical rehabilitation. Some things that are near and dear to my life are family and friends, my relationship with God, cycling, kettlebells, hiking/climbing, and QUALITY food and drink.


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