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Ankle is super weak... advice? PLEASE!

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    Ankle is super weak... advice? PLEASE!

    I have recently started riding my horse using more leg on her and she is improving leaps and bounds, but when I ride for long periods of time (today schooling XC) I notice my right ankle gives out and I begin putting all my weight in the out side of my foot which results in my ankle collapsing and my foot twisted side ways. Obviously this hurts! I assume I am doing the whole ride, but only notice it after a while of riding and it starts to hurt.

    Not sure if this make a difference, but I also just started using joint irons because it helps the pains in my knees.

    Do I just have a weak leg and need more practice or is there something else? Anyone have this problem? Know how to fix it?
    ~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
    R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor

    Don't know if you saw my post from the other day, but I'm sort of in the same boat. I don't currently have the jointed irons but was thinking that may help....maybe not?

    I obviously don't have any good advice although I do know a few ankle strengthening ex's i.e. using thera-band for resistance in multiple directions and writing the ABC's in the air with your foot. I'm thinking my issue is more joint related and not so much the surrounding musculature, although I think I'll start these ex's. You can pm me for more specifics if you're interested.

    I just wanted to say that I know how it feels to have an ankle that just says "No More!". It's going to be really hard to ride a xc course without both ankles up to par!

    Good Luck


      I sprained my ankle in a fall and I wrote my ABC's in the air with that ankle every night. Was exhausting at first but it did help and my ankle doesn't bother me anymore. When I started riding again I did a lot of work without stirrups so that I could stay off of it. It took a couple of months before I felt totally solid on it to ride full hour with stirrups--but man all that no stirrups was good for me!


        I have two extremely bad ankles -- many severe sprains over the years, resulting in chronic pain, especially when riding. I went to a physical therapist and she worked with me for a few weeks. The strengthening has really helped. The ABCs -- as noted above -- do help. The trick with exercises is that you have to DO them. Funny, that.
        Looking for horse activity in the Twin Tiers? Follow my blog at


          You can also tape your ankle to help support it, but exercises will bring about the most permanent "cure" for weakness.


            Original Poster

            Thanks for all the Advice and I will try the ABC's and tape my ankle for my event at the end of the month.

            Sweetie G: Jointed irons will help for joint problems. saved my knee and my joint related ankle problem. I dont think the stirrup is causing it because its only doing it to one ankle...
            ~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
            R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor


              Yes! I had this same problem: my left ankle would bow outwards in the stirrup, especially when riding in short stirrups, and my lower leg would shake uncontrollably when I tried to realign it. I figured I strained something so I tried to rest it for a couple weeks by doing just dressage and work without stirrups. After that, I started doing ankle stretches during warmups and tried to concentrate on properly aligning my ankle when riding in short stirrups. I think footwear had something to do with it too, so I periodically switch from tall boots to paddocks. Good luck!


                My ankles are bad too, particularly my right one. Countless bad sprains over 12 years of volleyball. I have the same problem - when I ride in short stirrups for any period of time my ankle collapses outward and I have no control over my right leg. I also get searing pain from my ankle up the outside of my calf. Not fun when you're jumping.

                The jointed stirrups did not work for me. I switched back to traditional ones. I do however tape my ankle with about 1/2 roll of Vet Wrap before jump schools and shows. It helps a lot.

                Good luck. I know what a pain it is - literally and figuratively.
                "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham


                  I also have the same issue. I don't have any exercises to offer up ,I'm going to try the ABC exercise; but I can tell you that jointed stirrups actually make it worse (for me anyway).


                    Find a skating rink and go ice skating. It will really help. Practice going form the outside of the blade, back to the inside of the blade as you go around the rink. Your goal is to be able to keep yourself mostly on the inside, keeping the weight on the ball of your foot. When you push off to make yourself go forward, it uses the inner muscles of your legs. It will also strengthen the outer tendons and such of your ankle, which is where most people experience the most amount of pain.

                    The other thing you can do is when you are sitting watching TV, sit with your knees bent, shoulder width apart and lift the outside of your foot off the ground, again weighting the ball of your foot. You should feel the pull on the outside of your ankle.

                    Also as stated before, you must do them frequently and regularly, or nothing will help.


                      I have incredibly bad ankles as well. mine give out to the outside and i HATE jointed stirrups. I can deal with them for a bit but after a while my ankles throb and go numb. Other stirrups are fine but like everyone else said the exercises are key. But i definitely would experiment with other types of stirrups for your knees to see if theres a difference because the pain in my ankles is definitely alot worse with jointed stirrups, theres just not enough solid support.


                        I recently started using this ankle brace that was recommended by another rider. So far I have found it to be fabulous! It fits under paddock boots or tall boots and is not much thicker than a sock. I wear thin socks under it. I have one ankle that will roll over at the drop of a hat and has started to hurt when riding in short stirrups as well. It does a pretty good job of stabilizing. It's also very comfortable, I even wear it at night sometimes if there is any swelling and by morning, it is good as new.

                        "There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it"


                          Oh, I have an ankle exercise idea!


                          You'd be surprised how strong your ankles have to be to just stand on this.

                          To find others, search for "core stability exercise dome" or "turtle"
                          I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                            Another exercise/thought for your bad ankle is to think of lifting your little toe towards your knee, rather than pushing your heel down. This engages an entirely different (and more correct) set of muscles. It might help, or might not. Just a thought :->.
                            Yvonne Lucas
                            Red Moon Farm

                            "Practice doesn't make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect." - Jim Wofford

                            "Some days you're the dog, some days the hydrant." - Jim Wofford


                              Originally posted by Nin View Post
                              Oh, I have an ankle exercise idea!


                              You'd be surprised how strong your ankles have to be to just stand on this.

                              To find others, search for "core stability exercise dome" or "turtle"
                              Bosu's are great, but just as good, cheaper and maybe better for ankles are the stability disks. I use them for my knee rehab, but they are doing wonders for my normal creaky ankles too. They are about 15" in diameter and about 5" high inflated. If you can work your way up from two feet balanced to holding on one foot balanced for 15 seconds at a time you will be stronger than most!

                              Building strength in them is good, but developing the muscles for balance too is even better. You can find them lots of places.


                              I got this off amazon for less and it has a DVD to show you the various exercises.

                              The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.



                                why are you going there in the first place?

                                Assuming the horse is also not contributing,
                                do you have any aches and pains or injuries that could be influencing this?

                                Do you have trouble standing single leg, bare foot, off the horse and is right and left side symmetrical?

                                medical Mike
                                equestrian medical researcher


                                  Original Poster

                                  I have always had terribly weak ankles. They got a little better when i was playing soccer, but they would still sometimes give out (picture soccer player running then BAM rolled ankle and hit the ground! Kinda funny!) I had a really bad sprain to one of my ankles when I was 13 (19 now) but no one can remember which ankle it was. I never let it heal properly (because I wanted to ride) so that could be why I have such problems with this ankle.
                                  ~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
                                  R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor


                                    I've got terrible ankles - multiple sprains and a bad tear from learning the hard way not to tip my shoulder to a downhill jump. Without work on them, I will tend to roll outward on them when galloping (putting the weight on the outside of my foot), which ends up making my feet pretty sore and my leg come off. Some of it's weak ankles, some of its from weighting the outsides of my feet rather than the insides (you should see the way my running shoes wear).

                                    I found that doing alot of yoga with one-legged balance poses was very helpful: standing in bare feet with core engaged and balancing for gradually lengthening periods of time. The classic pose is the "tree" pose - with your free foot against the inside of your supporting leg, but lots of the variations helped as well. Plus, I found that a stirrup that had a bit of a rise in the outside branch (I used vet-wrap, but I think they make slanted pads as well), helped me think about weighting the inside of my foot, which helped build the muscles and instill the muscle memory to make galloping easier.


                                      Lots of great advice here... in the meantime I would recommend getting your hands on a T2 Active Ankle brace. Your ankle cannot fold to the side in this but it does not impair any forward flexion. Great for keeping it from getting reinjured while you're rehabbing. I'm not sure what kind of boots you could wear it under... maybe something like those ariat riding sneakers. It is a bit wide.


                                      I and most other volleyball players have spent at least some time in one of these!!
                                      Equine Portrait Commissions and Sporting Art
                                      Roxy 2001 APHA, Al Amir 2005 OTTB,
                                      Ten Purposes 2009 OTTB


                                        Original Poster

                                        Haha funny you post that. thats what my ankle was put in when I messed it up! Which is why it never healed because I never wore it and went riding all the time!
                                        ~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
                                        R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor