I suffer from weak ankles, as does my friend. Key difference? I’m self diagnosed. I don’t even know when I started saying this about myself or even where I heard it from. I’ve been reporting “weak ankles” since I was a teenager and (now that I think about it), I’m almost certain my self diagnosis began as an excuse for my falling over all the time. Of course, this wasn’t always as simple as not lifting my foot high enough (though that did feature) but often involved my whole foot rolling sideways. With my foot now lying at a 90 degree angle from what was ideal, I fell over. I fell over a lot. This still happens whenever I wear heels, sometimes in trainers. I never even considered what weak ankles were, it was just something that got people to stop talking about me falling over.
So, go on then, what are they? What are weak ankles?
What I’d consider “weak ankles” is most likely “over pronation“. Pronation is the natural movement of the foot when walking or running; it rolls inwards. Every person is likely to have a different level of pronation depending on what their gait is but most of us don’t even think about it. What I might be doing is pushing off each step too far towards my big toes. This uneven level of thrust means that my muscles have to compensate when I land. They don’t every time and this leads to me falling over. In a strange way it makes a lot of sense, I have terrible posture. I also vividly remember my family telling me off about my “duck feet” as I grew up, they pointed almost entirely outwards when I walked. Perhaps I over compensated when trying to get rid of this nickname?
I’ve become more aware of this lately because of how unstable I feel when I’m using a treadmill. Right from the beginning of a workout, my footsteps are all over the place. It’s like a mad game of keepy-uppy where my body lurches to one side so my feet compensate but then it happens in the other direction. On bad days I feel like I’m losing a lot of my forward thrust constantly catching myself from falling to the side.
So, what’s to be done?
I’ll be speaking to my Dr about it but I doubt they’ll really be that concerned. My adventures in falling over aren’t that intense or frequent (mostly because I never wear heels) and my GP tends to be quite laid back, to the point that I’ve felt somewhat belittled the last few times I’ve gone. My friend is encouraging me to go for a custom fitting of some insoles but she said those cost £100 (will have to ask where this was so I can post a link), which is a bit rich for my blood and I’m not even sure they will help. There are also online stores that sell insoles that start at about £40 but, once again, do I need something specific to my needs beyond over pronation? Feet are complicated!
So, I’m pretty sure I know what weak ankles are and I’m even relatively sure that my early diagnosis might have been correct. Now I just need to work out how to do something about it. My friend has a tendency to tumble when she’s out of her shoes with insoles but once she’s in them she’s steady as a rock. Not going to lie… that’s looking pretty tempting right now, even for a £100 price tag.