Strengthen vs. Support: Exercises to Develop Strong Ankles
For most cheerleaders, taping and bracing are a way of life. They have certain injuries that, with taping or bracing, allow them to function like their non-injured teammates. No matter what the injury, even with rehabilitation and recovery, they may need a little assistance (taping or bracing) to return to their previous level of competition and to help prevent re-injury. However, it is important to remember that strengthening the surrounding muscles is a first line of defense against injuries. Taping or bracing an unstable joint without the proper strengthening program in place may not allow the cheerleader to strengthen his/her body to the full potential.
These exercises should be completed with physician approval under the guidance of a coach, athletic trainer, or physical therapist until proper form is mastered.
– Move the ankle around slowly as if tracing letters of the alphabet. Repeat letters A-Z for 1-3 sets.
– Stand on a balance disc, balance board, or trampoline. Practice standing on 1 foot (you may stand in a liberty position if you choose) for 30 secs, then switch and do the exercise on the other foot. For a challenge, practice closing your eyes while you balance.
Balance Disc with Ball Toss
– With a partner, practice the exercise above while tossing a light ball back and forth.
– Stand on the edge of a panel mat or springboard. Raise up on releve’ keeping your ankle in line (do not allow your ankle to roll inward or outward), then slowly lower down dropping your heels slightly below. Repeat for 2 sets of 15.
– Turn around and stand with your toes hanging off the edge of the panel mat or springboard. Then pull your toes up toward your head on one foot and hold, then switch to the other. Do 2 sets of 15.
Plantar Flexion with Resistance Band
– Sit on the floor with your right leg extended. Wrap one end of a resistance band around the ball your right foot and hold the other end in your hands. Keep toes flexed up. Slowly press your foot forward pointing it as you maintain the band’s resistance, then return to the starting position. Do 20 reps, then repeat on left side.