When you look around you at the start of your next road race, you will probably see a lot of runners stretching, hopping or skipping.
These warm-up drills don’t just help you to get mentally ready for your race, but they also warm up your muscles and extend your range of motion.
This can help you run faster and much easier.
Ankling is one of the most popular warm-up exercises but what exactly is it? And how do you do ankling properly?
We take a closer look at ankling exercises and how you do ankling in the most effective way.
Ankling is a type of basic running drill which is often used as an element of a warm-up routine. It can help a runner to improve strength and mobility of ankles.
This will also improve the runner’s landing technique, putting less pressure on a single point.
A great side effect of ankling is that it can increase the number of steps which makes your jog and run a lot more efficient.
Ankling is done by simply picking up your feet off the ground very quickly. You will need to keep your ankle at a 90-degree angle at the ankle joint each time you lift a foot.
It’s important to take small steps and only put the balls of your feet back on the ground. Your knees should only be bent slightly when ankling.
The easiest way to get started with ankling warm-ups is by ankling on one spot and then slowly start moving forward.
What Muscles Does Ankling Target?
Ankling is all about increasing the motion range of the ankle. The exercise helps to create stability and strength in your ankles for short and long distance runs.
Ankling aims to train a range of major muscles, such as tibialis anterior, the calf muscles and foot flexor muscles.
Benefits Of Ankling
Ankling has a range of fantastic benefits that makes it ideal for more experienced runners as well as running novices.
Suitable For Beginners And Advanced Runners
Just like most other warm-up drills, ankling is very easy to learn. This means beginners and more advanced runners can easily include it in their running routine.
It’s worth noting here that it’s always best to start ankling on one spot first and then slowly move forward.
You can increase your speed over time when you feel more confident about your ankling technique.
Warms Up Muscles
The warm-up is one of the most important preparations for your run. It helps you get your tendons, shin muscles and ligaments warmed up.
These muscles can quickly get injured during a run when they aren’t warmed up.
The most important muscles you are training with Ankling is the Achilles tendon. It’s the strongest tendon in your body connecting the hell bone with your calf muscles.
The Achilles tendon is so strong because it has to absorb the impact when your foot hits the ground. It effectively acts like a spring.
So, this tendon absorbs the energy when your foot gets in contact with the ground, and it then release the energy when you push off again.
Your foot and your ankle give your entire body stability. This means that they don’t just allow you to move but they also support your body weight.
As a result, successful runners need to activate the strength in your feet and the muscles around to train and race.
Improves Your Running Technique
It may not look like it at first but ankling can be a great aid to improve your running technique, especially when it comes to the right landing.
The different running distances and speeds affect the way your foot hits the ground. Each landing is a heavy impact on your feet muscles, bones and the rest of your body.
That’s why, it is essential that you land as gently as possible and you should also avoid overstriding.
Increases Number Of Steps
The right way of ankling prevents your feet from running over your heels. You will be able to maintain a good step length with the right speed.
This allows you to increase your number of steps per minute, also known as cadence in running.
But why is this important? When it comes to running, you should always avoid the risk of injuries, especially when you are just warming up.
Increasing the number of steps you achieve in a minute reduces the impact on your knees significantly. This helps prevent any of the typical runner injuries.
Improves Communication Between Muscles And Nerves
Ankling doesn’t just improve the strength in the muscles around your ankles but it also boosts the communication between the muscles and your nerves.
This means that your body will be able to coordinate better when you start to intensify your training.
How To Do Ankling Safely
You start off with the right body position. Have your feet hip-distance apart, keep your upper body straight and look straight ahead.
Then, set the right foot forward and land on the ball of your foot. Your left foot is still standing straight.
Now, move your weight from the left leg to the right leg. You can do this by moving from the ball of your foot to the heel.
The heel of your right foot should come into contact with the ground now.
This is the basic routine for the right side. Now just repeat the same for the left side, and alternate between left and right.
You can start off slowly and then speed up. It’s essential that your steps are small, and also allow your arms to move with your legs, just as you would do while running.
Top Tips For Your Ankling Warm-Up
When it comes to your running exercise routine, it’s essential that you do it correctly to make sure you don’t injury yourself.
Here are some tips on how to perform ankling safely.
Keep Your Knees Low
It might be tempting to lift your knees as high up as possible, but you should do exactly the opposite when ankling.
Make sure that your knees stay as low as possible, just allowing the foot to go through its full movement.
Watch Your Posture
Ensure that your upper body is straight. It shouldn’t bend backward or forward.
Move Your Arms
With all the focus on your legs and feet, it’s easy to forget your arms. It’s essential that you swing each arm opposite your raised leg.
While it’s best to do ankling at a good pace, the right ankling technique is more important. This means you should start slowly and watch your ankles carefully. Then speed up gradually.
When Should You Integrate Ankling In Your Training?
You can integrate ankling into your running routine at any time. It is typically used as a warm-up exercise but it’s also possible to do ankling after an easy run.
You can also use ankling as part of a stop-start exercise, so just do some ankling, then rest for a moment, and then perform the ankling exercise again.
Ankling is a great warm-up exercise that every beginning and an advanced runner can do. You only need to ensure that you perform your ankling drill safely.