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Just Starting: Tips or exercises for strengthening ankles

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06-22-2009, 06:45 AM
  #1
Skraut
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Just Starting: Tips or exercises for strengthening ankles

First of all, thanks for this awesome section to HFBoards. I have learned so much by browsing it heavily the past month or so.

At 33 years old, I finally decided to learn to skate. It was always something I wanted to do as a kid, but the nearest rink was over 60 miles from where I grew up. Even though I couldn't skate yet, proximity to a rink, was one of the reasons I selected where my new house would be.

I started taking adult lessons, and am beginning to get some comfort for the ice after 6 or so trips in the past few weeks. I've been making all the common mistakes, shredding my hands on my laces, numb feet from tying my skates too tight, but really enjoying the experience.

The big trouble I am having however is with support in my ankles. I've always had relatively weak ankles, and as a big guy (6'4' 280) this only makes the problem worse. My ankles are constantly rolling inwards, and no matter what I do, I can't seem to get off my inside edges. My feet have always naturally rolled inwards, and I wear Alznner orthotics in my shoes, and have started wearing them in my skates as well. They are hard plastic, but my feet are so used to them they are very comfortable. They sit on my skates footpads, and if I had to guess, give about the equivalent of a 2mm Heel lift. As this is inside my boot however, is this causing my foot to rise too far out of my boot and reducing the effectiveness of it? Should I look at a complete insole designed for the boot like superfeet?

I tie the laces at the top of my RBK 4K's as tight as possible, and then use the pump to try and get more support out of them, but whatever I do, at about the 15-20 minute mark, I just seem unable to support myself on my skates anymore. On my last trip, after leaving the ice, my ankle collapsed walking the 10 ft to the bench to take my skates off.

I realize the weight is a big portion of this, and the desire to get on the ice is what has helped me drop 40 lbs already this year. I was hoping to add more on ice activities to help augment the other exercise I am doing for weight loss. I'm just looking for any suggestions to help strengthen my ankles for skating, or any other tips for getting off my inside edges.

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06-22-2009, 06:53 AM
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Gino 14
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Skate as often as you can. Not much else is going to change your ankles rolling other than learning your techniques and using them.

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06-22-2009, 07:55 AM
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I wouldn't recommend this for a kid learning to skate, but you need extra support. Tape just above the top eyelets with shinguard tape. Two wraps should help and need not be overly snug, ideally it will have some give and kick in with secondary support, but use what is required to keep your ankles "in range".

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06-22-2009, 11:14 AM
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If frequent skating sessions aren't an option for you, get some rollerblades, and tie them as loose as possible (without sacrificing form) and just do some basic striding up and down your street. Gradually loosen them more as you get stronger.

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06-22-2009, 11:34 AM
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4k's are not going to cut it for a guy who's 6'4" and 280 pounds. You really need to get some stiffer skates.

There really isn't any such thing as weak ankles, because you wouldn't be able to walk if they were weak. You either have poor balance or you have bad skates. And it really sounds like the latter in your case.

I'm only 5'8" and when I was 185-190 I wore through a pair of Vapor VII skates in just a few months. The ankles would collapse and I could twist the boot with my bare hands. I invested $250 into a pair of Vapor XIX's and problem solved, plus my skating improved by leaps and bounds when I got skates with the proper support.

I would highly, highly recommend a quality stiff skate. Anything second from the top in terms of price would do the job. If you're broke, check out used skates like Supremes and Tacks, just make sure when you squeeze the top of the boot that there isn't much give. You definitely shouldn't be able to touch the sides of the boot together when squeezing.

And of course, make sure you get fitted properly for the skates. Each brand fits different and stiff skates don't "break in" like older ones did...you want something that's comfy with plenty of support from the get go.

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06-22-2009, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
4k's are not going to cut it for a guy who's 6'4" and 280 pounds. You really need to get some stiffer skates.

There really isn't any such thing as weak ankles, because you wouldn't be able to walk if they were weak. You either have poor balance or you have bad skates. And it really sounds like the latter in your case.

I'm only 5'8" and when I was 185-190 I wore through a pair of Vapor VII skates in just a few months. The ankles would collapse and I could twist the boot with my bare hands. I invested $250 into a pair of Vapor XIX's and problem solved, plus my skating improved by leaps and bounds when I got skates with the proper support.

I would highly, highly recommend a quality stiff skate. Anything second from the top in terms of price would do the job. If you're broke, check out used skates like Supremes and Tacks, just make sure when you squeeze the top of the boot that there isn't much give. You definitely shouldn't be able to touch the sides of the boot together when squeezing.

And of course, make sure you get fitted properly for the skates. Each brand fits different and stiff skates don't "break in" like older ones did...you want something that's comfy with plenty of support from the get go.
Weak relative to skating, yes, of course there is a such thing as weak ankles. You may have not noticed it because you grew up ice skating, but moving from roller to ice, I can tell you there has been a noticeable difference in ankle strength and using edges over wheels. The balance was there, the ankle strength was not. And an overly stiff skate for a beginner is not good for learning to skate, stiffness only helps if you know how to use it.

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06-22-2009, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
4k's are not going to cut it for a guy who's 6'4" and 280 pounds. You really need to get some stiffer skates.
Agree, those 4k's are going to be brutal for such a big guy. Even a regular grown man would need something else. One exercise you can do to help strengthen your ankles is, go up and down on your tippy toes. Then try doing this on a street curb with just the front of your foot on the curb and go up and down on your toes. And then you can take a barbell with some weight on it and put it on your back as you would for a squat, and once again go up and down on your tippy toes. I promise you these will strengthen your ankles and help prevent ankle injuries.

Here's the link to the last exercise that Martin St. Louis does. It's the one called Rhythm Squats.

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.c...7898/index.htm

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06-22-2009, 04:06 PM
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Thanks for the input guys, I questioned the owner of my local hockey shop about my weight when he handed me the 4k's and his response was "They're great for learning in, yes you'll probably destroy them if you try and play competitive hockey in them, but for learning to skate they'll be fine." Hope I didn't make a mistake buying them. The boots are still as stiff as the day I got them, and I actually have trouble getting the top of the boot to touch the sides of my ankles (part of the problem I think).

I have a pair of rollerblades, but they are distance skating style, with a small boot and a hard ankle brace that comes up the calf. The brace allows for plenty of forward/backward movement, but absolutely no side to side. I tried skating in them with that brace loosened a little bit, and had absolutely no control.

Since I even had problems walking in the skates, I thought about simply picking up some hard blade guards and wearing the skates around the house a bit just to practice walking and balancing in them. Good idea, or not?

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06-22-2009, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skraut View Post
Thanks for the input guys, I questioned the owner of my local hockey shop about my weight when he handed me the 4k's and his response was "They're great for learning in, yes you'll probably destroy them if you try and play competitive hockey in them, but for learning to skate they'll be fine." Hope I didn't make a mistake buying them. The boots are still as stiff as the day I got them, and I actually have trouble getting the top of the boot to touch the sides of my ankles (part of the problem I think).

I have a pair of rollerblades, but they are distance skating style, with a small boot and a hard ankle brace that comes up the calf. The brace allows for plenty of forward/backward movement, but absolutely no side to side. I tried skating in them with that brace loosened a little bit, and had absolutely no control.

Since I even had problems walking in the skates, I thought about simply picking up some hard blade guards and wearing the skates around the house a bit just to practice walking and balancing in them. Good idea, or not?
Sometimes I really question how much knowledge the people in some of these stores have. I wouldn't take anyone's word in a place like Sportchek.

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06-22-2009, 08:33 PM
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Balance on one foot as long as you can. Start with 10 seconds each, then build up to 20 and 30. When you can do that, you should begin holding weights in each hand. Once you can balance on 1 ankle for 60 seconds with 100 lbs added, you'll never have ankle problems again.

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06-23-2009, 12:47 AM
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If your ankles are constantly bridging on the inside edge, your skates are probably too large. A tell-tale sign of this is if you have incredible pains on to top of the ankle as well as some visible signs of constant pressure, mostly on the outer area.

Make sure your big toe can just barely scratch the end of the boot when you're flexing your knees.

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06-23-2009, 07:59 AM
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Standing on tip toes is a calf exercise. Balance trainers are balance exercises. Unless you have a lot of ankle pain and/or your legs collapse, I'll bet it's an equipment or balance problem, and not weak ankles.

Click on the video about skate selection

Another thing to try, if you hold the boot tight under your arm and grab the holder with your other hand, can you move it back and forth? That means the boot itself is twisting, and possible even the outsole.

Again, I was just under 200 pounds when I started skating, and after literally just a few months, not only was the boot trashed, but the outsole itself. Cheap skates have flimsy materials and a hard plastic outsole, whereas a quality skate is going to be stiff and have a composite outsole. If your outsole isn't stiff, when you try to use either edge, it will twist, and that will cause you to lose an edge and fall.

Anyways, you could try getting longer laces and tying the skates around the ankle, but I'd still have to believe at 280 you need a better skate.

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06-23-2009, 10:51 AM
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I don't know if jump rope would be suitable for you.... but it's a great way to strengthen the tendons and supporting muscles around your ankles. Be forewarned that it puts quite a bit of stress on the Achilles Tendon.

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06-23-2009, 12:28 PM
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Thanks everybody for your help. I hit another open skate at lunch, and am slowly coming to the conclusion that I may have jumped into everything too quickly. I paid specific attention to a lot of the suggestions in here, and was skating just fine for the first 15-20 minutes, then lost all strength. I think my skating muscles are all just flat out sore. I went from not skating to going to 3 open skates a week plus lessons, and I think my ankles are more just fatigued than anything.

I kept pushing myself harder and harder because I want this so much, and wasn't giving my body time to recover. I kept thinking, "I just need to skate more, I'll get better" and while that is true over time, it doesn't mean all in the same week. Going to take some time and recover let the new muscles I've never used before grow, and then see how things go.

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06-23-2009, 12:55 PM
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Seriously man, there is no such thing as "weak" ankles. Laura Stamm has said it, my coaches have said it, even Jesus wrote it in some obscure passage of the bible. Make sure your boots fit properly.

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06-23-2009, 02:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DobraPicka View Post
Seriously man, there is no such thing as "weak" ankles. Laura Stamm has said it, my coaches have said it, even Jesus wrote it in some obscure passage of the bible. Make sure your boots fit properly.
Yep ... agreed. In the 70s when we played with friends outdoors everyone had weak ankles because the only good skates were made for the pros or rich people.

Everyone else got crap!

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06-23-2009, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Skraut View Post
Thanks everybody for your help. I hit another open skate at lunch, and am slowly coming to the conclusion that I may have jumped into everything too quickly. I paid specific attention to a lot of the suggestions in here, and was skating just fine for the first 15-20 minutes, then lost all strength. I think my skating muscles are all just flat out sore. I went from not skating to going to 3 open skates a week plus lessons, and I think my ankles are more just fatigued than anything.

I kept pushing myself harder and harder because I want this so much, and wasn't giving my body time to recover. I kept thinking, "I just need to skate more, I'll get better" and while that is true over time, it doesn't mean all in the same week. Going to take some time and recover let the new muscles I've never used before grow, and then see how things go.
It takes a LONG time for your skating muscles to develop. Literally 6 months just to get going if you do it twice a week. To get in top skating shape will take 4-6 yrs, 3-4 times a week. This is not an exaggeration whatsoever.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DobraPicka View Post
Seriously man, there is no such thing as "weak" ankles. Laura Stamm has said it, my coaches have said it, even Jesus wrote it in some obscure passage of the bible. Make sure your boots fit properly.
Kind of. The thing is, to make your ankles adjust to skating is tougher on some people than others. E.g. some people have thinner ligaments and tendons and more strength gain is required.

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06-23-2009, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skraut View Post
Thanks everybody for your help. I hit another open skate at lunch, and am slowly coming to the conclusion that I may have jumped into everything too quickly. I paid specific attention to a lot of the suggestions in here, and was skating just fine for the first 15-20 minutes, then lost all strength. I think my skating muscles are all just flat out sore. I went from not skating to going to 3 open skates a week plus lessons, and I think my ankles are more just fatigued than anything.

I kept pushing myself harder and harder because I want this so much, and wasn't giving my body time to recover. I kept thinking, "I just need to skate more, I'll get better" and while that is true over time, it doesn't mean all in the same week. Going to take some time and recover let the new muscles I've never used before grow, and then see how things go.
Seriously did you try the tape? It will add support, preferably secondary support (good skates may do this better, but this is a much, much cheaper experiment) and allow you to skate for more than 15-20 minutes three times a week. Learning to skate is more than just strengthening your ankles.

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06-24-2009, 01:16 AM
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Balance on one foot as long as you can. Start with 10 seconds each, then build up to 20 and 30. When you can do that, you should begin holding weights in each hand. Once you can balance on 1 ankle for 60 seconds with 100 lbs added, you'll never have ankle problems again.
Skraut, this is excellent advice. If you're looking for some good balance exercises, this is at the top of the list. Secondary would be jumping rope (if you're like me and too uncoordinated to actually use the rope, just simulate that part).

Consider that skating basically forces your ankle and lower leg through a full (and unusual) range of motion. Try balancing on one foot, then slowly working up onto your toes. Then slowly roll back further on your foot to the point where you can feel tension in the front of your leg just outside the tibia. That's a muscle called the tibialis anterior, and you most definitely will need it for strong skating.

Personally, I've never been a fan of either taping skates or having tight laces all the way to the top. You'll want the laces to be as tight as possible up until you hit the ankle, and then just tight enough to secure the boot. You don't want to impede the range of motion of the ankle.

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06-24-2009, 05:36 PM
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Thanks again everybody. I got up the courage to walk up to an adult leaguer waiting for ice time, and basically say, "I'm a n00b what's wrong with my skates"

It turns out oddly enough that it was a problem with the stock laces. They were too short by the time my beefy feet and arch supports got into the boot. I had been absolutely tightening the hell out of my lower foot crushing it trying to make sure I still had enough laces left to tie at the top. This was causing pinching in the lower part of the boot, and collapsing of the arch. Then up top, I didn't have enough lace to really get the upper portion of the boot tight. (It felt like I needed tweezers to tie the laces at the top)

I picked up a longer set of laces, and he worked with me showing where I needed my boots extra tight, and where I could go with them being a little looser. He agrees I'll need stronger boots eventually, but I just got off the ice after going over an hour and it felt great! No pain in the arches, and support on the ankles. What a wonderful feeling!

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06-24-2009, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Skraut View Post
Thanks again everybody. I got up the courage to walk up to an adult leaguer waiting for ice time, and basically say, "I'm a n00b what's wrong with my skates"

It turns out oddly enough that it was a problem with the stock laces. They were too short by the time my beefy feet and arch supports got into the boot. I had been absolutely tightening the hell out of my lower foot crushing it trying to make sure I still had enough laces left to tie at the top. This was causing pinching in the lower part of the boot, and collapsing of the arch. Then up top, I didn't have enough lace to really get the upper portion of the boot tight. (It felt like I needed tweezers to tie the laces at the top)

I picked up a longer set of laces, and he worked with me showing where I needed my boots extra tight, and where I could go with them being a little looser. He agrees I'll need stronger boots eventually, but I just got off the ice after going over an hour and it felt great! No pain in the arches, and support on the ankles. What a wonderful feeling!

Well there you go then .... have fun now and enjoy what you are doing instead of fiddling around with equipment.

I just finished breaking in my new skates, I had a tough spot under the ball of my left foot which finally caved in today. Yep I had them heat molded but that doesn't do everything in a skate to fit them on you. The old fashioned way of just using them is the best way.


Good luck to you sir! let us know if you join a men's hockey league or something.


Last edited by Hockeyfan68: 06-24-2009 at 10:10 PM.
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06-24-2009, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MistaWrista View Post
Balance on one foot as long as you can. Start with 10 seconds each, then build up to 20 and 30. When you can do that, you should begin holding weights in each hand. Once you can balance on 1 ankle for 60 seconds with 100 lbs added, you'll never have ankle problems again.
This is the exercise that I do. This exercise was recommended by my trainer at my gym, and it has helped my ankles tremendously since. I play soccer and hockey, and I used to constantly roll and sprain my ankles. The need to cut back and forth in soccer weakened my ankles over time, and in turn affected my play in hockey. This exercise has strengthened my ankles a lot, I strongly recommend this.

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06-25-2009, 12:16 AM
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That's great, didn't even think of lacing problems you might have had. I like my boots nice and loose below the ankle, pretty tight at the ankle, and don't lace above it, but I have stiff boots and like my freedom. Hopefully you can make some great progress before you need a new pair!

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06-25-2009, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skraut View Post
Thanks everybody for your help. I hit another open skate at lunch, and am slowly coming to the conclusion that I may have jumped into everything too quickly. I paid specific attention to a lot of the suggestions in here, and was skating just fine for the first 15-20 minutes, then lost all strength. I think my skating muscles are all just flat out sore. I went from not skating to going to 3 open skates a week plus lessons, and I think my ankles are more just fatigued than anything.

I kept pushing myself harder and harder because I want this so much, and wasn't giving my body time to recover. I kept thinking, "I just need to skate more, I'll get better" and while that is true over time, it doesn't mean all in the same week. Going to take some time and recover let the new muscles I've never used before grow, and then see how things go.
good to hear i may have been the laces. Oddly enough, a lot of players do not tie their skates tight. Incluing myself....

After I broke my Ankle (playing Softball) i had to strengthen it back up again. there were a few things i did regularly and still do today even though it's been nearly two years since.

When at the gym, between sets, i will sometims just do standing calf raises. kills time, and stregnthens the muscle. after the break and going throught the rehab, it was all Thera band work.

My wife is a Physical Therapist, and Granted this was for a break, but strengthening is strengthening, she had me do somethings like in the link.... and most of these you can do while watching TV....
http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/...klerehab_4.htm


Either way, the more you skate the more comfortable you'll be

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