7 Ways to Keep Your Weak Ankles Protected while Hiking

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If you are planning a hike, then one of the concerns you should address is protecting your ankles. All too often, most people do not think about their ankles until they sprain them.

The sad part being, even a mild sprain can be quite painful and diminish your mobility, especially way out in the woods or the outdoors.

Taking a few steps to protect your ankles can go a long way towards keeping them free of injury.

Here are seven proven ways to protect your ankles before you take that hike. By doing a little prevention today, you can save your body from the pain and discomfort of spraining your ankles or worse.

1- Keep the Shoe Light

The better your shoes, the more support you will get for your ankles. This means the support should run from the toes to the heel and with plenty of cushions to absorb impacts.

Thick, heavy hiking boots are counterproductive since they pull on your knees and hips, making the hike even more tiring. Instead, look for shoes and boots that are made from strong, but lightweight material.

The goal is to find the footwear that offers the best protection while being as light as possible. This is especially true in the summer months when you want breathable shoes or boots on your feet.

It’s also true in the winter as well since slogging through snow or slush only gets worse when you are sporting heavy footwear.

So, finding the right shoes or hiker ankle boots means going as light as possible for the least amount of strain on your legs.

2- Stick to Established Trails

This may seem less adventurous that dashing off into the woods, but trails are there for a reason. A trail has been worn down with the dirt compressed to create strong support for your feet when you walk.

A good trail means less unevenness along the surface which means less of a chance that you turn your ankle when walking.

Of course, not all trails are conducive to being flat, but you should look carefully when you first start walking to ensure that the trail is going to work for you.

If you should go off the trail, be extra careful so that you do not step on something that causes you to lose balance.

3- Wear Ankle Brace for Hiking

Hiking ankle brace that can be worn inside the shoes can be of great help to avoid spraining your ankles.

Not only it provides your ankle the extra support it needs but also the protection from any type of possible injuries caused due to ankle rolling or twisting.

Even though you have the best hiker ankle boots and trekking poles at your end wrapping up your ankles with best ankle brace for hiking is a crucial step.

This will make sure that you do not limit your activity by getting your ankles sprained too often.

4- Throw Away Worn Out Boots

If your hiking shoes or boots have seen better days, toss them out. A worn pair will only let you down when you need them the most.

At the very least, put the worn shoes aside for hiking and keep them around the house to wear casually.

It’s not surprising that many people grow attached to their hiking shoes or boots, but there comes a time when they can no longer be trusted when you are out in the woods.

Buying a good pair of hiking boots or gaiters is generally best as it provides support for the ankle to keep it from bending too much.

While many people dislike wearing boots, for those who have ankles susceptible to spraining, this may be the best choice.

5- Watch Your Step when Walking

This may be the most obvious, but it is also the most overlooked piece of advice for protecting your ankles during a hike. It is very easy to get distracted when hiking.

This is especially true when looking at your phone or a map if you enjoy such things. Getting distracted means not looking where you are going and the next thing you know, you are on the ground holding your sprained ankle.

It’s one thing to be walking along a flat, smooth surface such as a concrete pathway, but they are few and far between on most hikes.

So, do the next best thing by stopping anytime you need to read a map or look at your phone. You are not likely to sprain your ankle standing still, so get into the habit of stopping first and then looking away.

6- Clean & Rest Your Feet at Regular Intervals

The point of hiking is to finish the journey which means taking proper rest breaks and cleaning your feet when needed.

Hot, sweaty feet not only get tired quickly, but they also present a greater danger of slipping and spraining your ankle.

This means that every hour or two at most, take a rest break before your feet get overly tired and wash them.

A good creek is to quickly rinse off your feet but use canteen water if you have got it. A little care and attention before your feet get tired means that you can hike longer through the day.

7- Exercise and Strengthen Your Ankles

While the ankle is a joint, you can exercise the muscles that surround the ankle to provide better protection.

This means starting off with shorter walks and simple exercises that increase the strength in the muscles of the legs and feet.

You should add a little cross-training as well to help stretch and build strength when going in different directions.

You can strengthen the proper muscles by doing simple exercises such as calve raises.

Standing up on your toes while having some balance support can increase the strength in your lower legs. This, in turn, helps to keep your ankles in line and resist spraining.

If despite the precautions you should sprain your ankle, all is not lost. Here is what you can do in case the ankle is sprained;

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Otherwise known as RICE, doing these four things will reduce the swelling which will increase mobility on your sprained ankle.

You will want to do this quickly to reduce the amount of swelling until you can get back home.

Once you are home, you should get medical attention if needed. Otherwise, let the swelling continue as that is what is going to heal your ankle.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the swelling is the blood flowing to the ankle to heal it, so let your body do its job.

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