One of the most common hiking injuries is a sprained or rolled ankle. Ankle injuries most often occur at the end of a hike when your muscles are tired and your joints may even be a bit swollen. Swelling and fatigue both decrease proprioception - your sense of where your body is in space. Therefore, you may not realize you're off balance until it's too late.
To help train your body to decrease your risk of spraining your ankle try these strategies:
Train for endurance - Your off-trail training should prepare you for your on-trail experience. If you're planning a 10-mile hike on rugged terrain, make sure your body is well trained to walk at least 10 miles on even surfaces.
Strengthen the whole kinetic chain - While exercises to strengthen the small muscles around the ankle are helpful, the thigh and hip muscles also contribute significantly to stability. Therefore, squats, step-downs, and single-leg exercises are an important part of your training program.
Balance training - Balance reactions decrease as we age. So, in order to keep them sharp, you'll need to include some balance training in your program. Add kettlebell around the worlds on one leg, heel taps from a step, and training on a BOSU ball to round out your program.
Once you've sprained your ankle, you're more prone to sprain it again. That's why it's important to be mindful of all three aspects of preparation in your training program. If you need help putting together a training program that's right for you, contact me and let's talk about your training needs.