Ankles and roller derby: a deadly combination.
In my short time playing roller derby I have personally witnessed three broken ankles, countless ankle sprains, hyper-plantar-flexioned (possible made-up word) my right ankle a few times and most recently sprained my left one too. When you mix wheels, bendy body parts and bashing the crap out of each other together, the probability of hurting your ankle goes up pretty sharply.
There are some things that we can’t prepare for, such as slamming into a wall full speed, feet first, or someone falling and landing like a dead weight onto your ankle.
But luckily, there are some things we can do to strengthen our ankles to prevent sprains and strains and to help rebuild our ankle strength after an injury.
Along with stretches and specific movements to strengthen the ankle, balance training is another great way to strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your ankle, plus you get a bonus core and proprioception workout too.
Check out this video of my sexy leg to see why balancing, even just on a flat surface, gives all those little muscles and ligaments around your ankle a workout….
See everything twitching trying to keep me from falling flat on my ass/face? Imagine how much harder they have to work if you add wheels into the mix….
my your ankles are weak and inflexible, its a disaster waiting to happen!
So, what can we do?
You could start out doing my Balancing Act Workout on a flat surface to build up general strength.
Perform each move for 30seconds per leg. Then repeat the whole routine another 1-2 times.
- 1 leg front-side-back toe taps
- 1 leg front raise
- 1 leg side-to-side reach
- 1 leg deadlifts
- 1 leg eyes-closed balance (more difficult than it sounds)
If you’re not injured and feeling strong, you can up the ante and perform the routine on skates, stationary at first and then rolling. Well, maybe not the eyes closed bit….
If you’ve got access to a gym, hop (carefully, maybe get a buddy to help you!) on to the wobble/balance board or bosu ball (like a half-fitness ball) and practice the following moves:
You can use the ball-up side of the bosu ball to make it slightly easier.
Forward-Backward – Stand with your weight spread evenly over the board with feet hip width apart & knees slightly bent, back straight and core engaged. Slowly tilt your toes downward until the board almost touches the floor before gradually bringing your toes upward then into dorsiflexion, tipping the board backwards. Continue for tipping back and forward for 30 sec and repeat 3-4 times.
Side-to-side – Standing in the same stance, tilt the board slowly from side to side, engaging your core and muscles in your feet and legs until the board nearly touches the floor. Continue for 30secs and repeat 3-4 times.
Round-the-world – Stand with feet slightly wider and squat a little lower then rotate the board front-side-back-side front, switching the direction of the board after each rotation. Continue for 30secs and repeat 3-4 times.
Derby-Stance-Balance – This time squat lower into derby stance with your back straight, butt down and knees in line with your feet, trying to keep the board centred and not allowing the edges to touch the ground. Hold for 30-60 secs and repeat 2-3 times.
Squats-to-extension – Begin in an upright position but with soft knees then slowly and in a controlled manner, squat down into the derby stance balance as above. Hold at the bottom for a second before returning to the start then stretching your arms straight up over your head. Continue for 30-60secs and repeat 2-3 times.
One-legged-balance – (Haha ok so I couldn’t do this but gonna work on it) Find the centre of the board, put all of your weight onto one leg and balance, keeping a soft knee and using your core and leg muscles. Try to keep the board level. Hold for 15-30secs before swapping legs. Repeat 2-3 times. (Rogue Runner saw this video on my Instagram & said to lift your foot out in front rather than behind. Yes, that Rogue Runner! Yes, I did to a little squeee!)
So, not only will balancing strengthen your ankles, it’s also great for your knees, core and proprioception and will definitely help you become a better skater and roller derby player.
Treble Maker 909 xx