Xterra star Melanie McQuaid provides wobble board exercises to help you improve your stability and avoid injuries on the uneven trails.
Written by: Melanie McQuaid
For those of you who trail race, both on bicycles and on foot, the likelihood of a sprained ankle at some point in your career might be higher than your pavement-based friends. Uneven terrain is difficult to navigate, particularly when you are fatigued, so full recovery from any injuries is essential to protecting against re-injury.
When the lower leg is damaged, small sensors in the body called proprioceptors are also impaired. Proprioceptors sense where the body is in space without your having to look. For example, when you roll your ankle and your body instantly rights itself, that is because of proprioceptors. I used a wobble board to improve my stability, retrain my proprioceptors and improve my overall coordination after many years of multiple sprained ankles, which inhibited my ability to run well off-road and downhill.
These five wobble board exercises can improve your ability to run well in technical terrain, particularly if you have suffered from an ankle injury. Adding this routine into your core routine will get you results in no time.
1. Balance on the board.
Those with unstable ankles will find this a challenge. Stand in front of a mirror where you can see that the board is level (the sides not touching the floor) while standing on it. You can stand next to a chair for support, but work toward being able to balance on the board for longer than a minute.
2. Rock the board in all directions.
Once you can balance on the board, then begin deliberately unbalancing and rebalancing in all directions. Also, rotate the board from side to side without letting it touch the floor.
Standing with legs shoulder-distance apart, perform a squat while balancing on the board. If you rock the board, rebalance and start again.
4. One-leg balance.
This can be difficult, especially on an injured ankle. Wait until you are strong again after an injury before you start this one.
5. One-leg squat.
One-leg squats are tricky, but once you have this last exercise down you are ready to assault any technical downhill that you encounter! Your next challenge is to do it all with your eyes closed.