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  • Writer's pictureFi Dean


Put that dumbbell down and listen up: muscles aren't everything. Your joints make your whole body tick but like any mechanical system they are prone to wear and tear. Without well functioning joints, it is challenging to add muscle, shed fat or get anything done around the house. To maintain them, you need to understand how they work and the threats they face. Over the next few weeks, I will tell you how to keep your six major joints in tip top condition. This month, let's look at the ankles.

TYPE OF JOINT: The ankle is highly stable in a neutral standing position but in a downward flex, on your toes position, this hinge joint depends more on support from injury-prone ligaments and tendons.

TOP THREAT: Sprain! A tear in one of the ligaments, usually on the outside of the ankle, that supports the joint. Severe sprains that leave the ankle unstable may eventually damage the joint's bones and cartilage.

CAUSE: Stretching the ligament beyond its limits, usually by rolling the foot as you walk or run on an uneven surface, or treading on someone's foot.

TREATMENT: Rest and compress the ankle, possibly with a brace. Rehab will build supporting muscles and increase balance with exercises like standing on one foot with eyes closed - important for preventing repeat strains due to instability. Surgery to reconstruct the ligament and brace the ankle is possible but rarely needed.

DEFENCE: Exercises like calf raises will increase support around the ankle and improve balance.

WATCH OUT! It is best to keep broken ankle bones immobile but that doesn't mean you have to be. You want the joint to bear weight because that generates electrical fields that help healing. An active recovery is better than a restful one.

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