Supination, or walking on the outside of the foot, can cause ankles to bend outward.
Walking on the outer side of your feet is called "supination." You can tell if you're a supinator by checking the soles of your running or walking shoes to see if they have greater wear to the outer edge of the sole. Supination can cause an array of problems, including poor posture, stress on the outer knee, tight Achilles tendons and a painful inflammation of the sole called plantar fasciitis. Fortunately, supination and its problems can be relieved with exercises that strengthen, limber and reposition the feet for a proper stride.
Understand Foot Supination
Supination occurs when the foot lands on the outside of the foot and then fails to roll inward during the stride. In a normal stride, the foot should roll inward so most of the weight bears on the ball of the foot, then pushes off from the big and second toes for the next step. Supination tends to keep the weight on the outside, with push-off from the outer toes. This can lead to additional complications, such as inflammation or fractures in the outer toes and the metatarsals that support them. People who supinate often have high, rigid arches that do not absorb the shock of impact well. To test for this, dip your feet in water and make footprints on a dry surface such as a sidewalk. High-arched feet leave just a thin line, or no line at all, connecting the heel and toes of the footprint, indicating a tendency to supinate.
Jump Rope to Train Your Feet
Dr. Nicholas Romanov of Pose Tech views supination as a subconsciously created error in the way the foot lands on the ground. Instead of connecting with the ground on the ball of the foot, supinators extend their leg forward as if they are trying to reach the ground sooner while avoiding the toes and ball of the foot. This can be corrected by re-training the way the body and mind perceive proper weight placement on the forefoot. Using a jump rope, especially in bare feet on a carpeted surface, provides this training because your feet automatically connect with the ball of foot on landing. Jumping rope is also a good way to warm up before your cardio workout. Running after doing a warmup with a jump rope will reinforce your feeling of the balanced, non-supinated landing strike.
Roll Your Feet and Squish Your Toes
This exercise is called "The Foot Supination To Pronation Roll-Press Exercise," and it will strengthen your foot's landing muscles, improve flexibility in all foot joints and stimulate circulation in your calves. For supinators, it massages your rigid arch and inner ankle to give your feet the flexibility they need to make the appropriate ball-of-foot contact during your stride. Stand with your knees relaxed and feet pointing straight ahead, hip-width apart. Working primarily with your feet, ankles and body weight, shift to the left so your left foot rolls to the outside as the right foot rolls to the inside. Rock back slightly on your heels as you shift to the right, rolling to the outside of your right foot and inside of your left foot. Shift your weight to your toes as you roll back to the left, making a counterclockwise movement. Do this for 10 reps, then reverse and do the same motion 10 times in a clockwise manner.
Stretch Your Calves and Achilles Tendons
Supination can cause pain in the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia as these connecting structures become shortened due the stiff and unnatural foot landing. Stretching will keep your muscles and tendons limber and flexible, relieving pain and helping to correct the supination. Stand facing a table and put one foot forward with the heel on the ground, toes pointing up. Holding onto the table for support, bend the supporting leg and then straighten it until you feel a stretch in the forward leg. The stretch will be felt in the calf if your knee is straight, or in the Achilles tendon with the knee bent. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then release and bring both feet together. Do three reps of each stretch, then change legs and repeat. This sequence can be done once or twice a day as needed. Warm up before stretching with five minutes of light cardio such as walking or jump rope at a moderate pace.