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Navy salad
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Navy salad
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 2:54 pm 
After experiencing my 3rd sprained ankle in 4 years a couple weeks ago (slipping on a big rock), I'm finally recognizing I need to do something more than just promise myself "I'll be more careful in the future". I'm a fit 71 year old, if that matters with good muscle tone but mediocre joints (whenever I've tried jogging in the last few years, it's generally just a matter of time before my knees start complaining, even though they are fortunately more tolerant of hiking than running).

I realize the web's full of ankle exercises, but I'm hoping to find something hiking-oriented. Has anyone else had this issue and overcame it from exercise? I have a non-hiking sister who is a nurse and is hounding me to get high top boots "for the ankle support", even though everything I've read/heard, aside from hiking boot salespeople, is that high top boots don't help that much and can even cause additional problems on their own.  Just for the record, except for when there's snow, I exclusively hike in low top hikers (my favorite being the Oboz Sawtooth II shoes).

Any suggestions?

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Sculpin
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 3:32 pm 
Navy salad wrote:
everything I've read/heard, aside from hiking boot salespeople, is that high top boots don't help that much

Don't ever take advice from those people again and listen to your dang sister!   rant.gif

I have congenitally weak ankles due to abnormally curved tibias.  I have had probably 20 sprained ankles bad enough to require medical care and rehab.  I more or less cannot hike without high top boots because as soon as I get distracted from the tread, my ankles roll.  But when I have my hiking boots on, I just don't have that problem.  It really is as simple as that.

I have only had one sprained ankle hiking, and it wasn't very bad because of my boots.  I was jogging downhill after absentmindedly leaving my camera on the side of the trail and stepped on a round rock.  Jogging...downhill...not recommended.

You have to tie them tight!

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Frango
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 3:49 pm 
Your sister the nurse is right. Get the boots. I’m a hiking nurse.  I have very weak ankles - fabulously strong legs but floppy tendons and ligaments that cause my ankles to roll when I step wrong. Have had a couple of surgeries to tighten everything up, but they’re still my weak spot.
Get the boots, make sure they fit well, lace them up properly and stop worrying about it!

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Bowregard
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 3:59 pm 
I used to sprain my ankles all the time. Mostly playing basketball or other sports but I even sprained it bad once just walking down the street in a rut. When I started hiking I had some achilles issues and started going to PT. The PT I worked with was really good and identified a lot of stiffness that was causing me overuse issues. My right ankle was pretty much "locked up" from all the scar tissue upon scar tissue which forced my calves to do all the heavy lifting instead of my Glutes and Quads.

The bent knee stretch with your foot flat on the floor and your knee pressing forward really loosed up my ankles from front to back and allowed my calves and achilles some relief.

They had me walking on all four sides of my feet (toes, heels, outside edge, inside edge). One at a time all over the room. It felt really silly but after awhile I could really feel how much it increased my ankle flexibility.

Then they used wobbly blocks and had me balance on them one foot at a time (destabilizes the foot and strengthens the muscles).

As far as protection I have heard the arguments that high top boots weaken your ankles and I can buy into that to a degree. If I was young again I would probably wear only low top flexible shoes and have an ankle flexibility/strengthening routine but my approach is to do that for all my low-risk activities and wear traditional supportive boots for hiking. The other thing that I believe saves ankle injuries is trekking poles. If you step on a rock and your ankle rolls inward trekking poles can often save you. So far that has worked out for me.

I would recommend finding a good PT and explaining your issues and having them show you what would be most beneficial. You don't have to have routine visits to benefit from it and IMHO it would be money well spent.

Navy salad
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texasbb
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 4:01 pm 
Navy salad wrote:
everything I've read/heard, aside from hiking boot salespeople, is that high top boots don't help that much and can even cause additional problems on their own

These people know what they're talking about; don't listen to your sister!

God made the ankle joint to move in every dimension we know about.  It rocks forward and back, it wags left/right, and with a little help from the hip joint, yaws clockwise/counterclockwise.  It needs to do all those things because the ground is uneven.  Trying to stop it from moving in those dimensions will only transfer forces up your leg and cause you to lose balance (and turn ankles).

Also, high-tops almost always come with a high heel, which is really the most significant factor in causing twisted ankles.  Whoever first imagined to put a high heel on an athletic boot should be tarred and feathered.

I can't speak to Sculpin's bent tibias, but I've had weak ankles my whole life, and twist them far more often in high-tops than in low- or mid-tops.

Maybe you could find a high-top, low-drop boot.  I've seen such things, just not in my size.

Navy salad, neek
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Gil
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 4:20 pm 
I've heard arguments on both sides. But unless the boot is rigid enough to keep the ankle from bending, how does that work? And what about the extra weight of high vs low tops? I switched to light low tops five or six years and love that.

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Malachai Constant
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 4:38 pm 
The boots we liked were Montrail trans alps high tops. When Columbia bought out Montrail they stopped making them, Columbia still makes the trans alps low tops which are not bad. They are also low drops. The only high heels that are functional are old school climbing boots which are necessary for crampons and of course cowboy boots if you ride doh.gif

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Songs2
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 4:40 pm 
I have strong ankles but use over-the-ankle boots when backpacking for support.
The boots allow the ankle to move. They are not cement overshoes.
They stop the excursion before a roll becomes a sprain. Usually happens when I am tired, but stepping on a rock or a log the wrong way can also start a roll.

Navy salad,
Would it be possible to rent or borrow (or buy cheaply on eBay) high boots, see how you like them?

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neek
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 4:48 pm 
OK...don't consider me remotely credible, but while I respect the opinions of the boot-wearers, I think minimal/barefoot shoes are the way to go.  The only thing they are not good for is snow and off-trail activity.  "Weak ankles" usually means you don't exercise them because they are basically in a splint all day.  At least do the minimal thing around town.  It's important to work up slowly to longer distances and rougher terrain.

My only ankle sprain (so far) happened in boots.  I now usually wear minimal shoes on the trail, carrying boots when necessary.

Recommended listening: https://peterattiamd.com/irenedavis/

williswall, Navy salad, Cyclopath
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Eric Hansen
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 5:03 pm 
Wobble board works great, trains your balance, reactions. We will always come down wrong on something. Question is whether we “come back to center”.

Frango, jditty, Navy salad, Cyclopath
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Ravenridge22
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 5:12 pm 
I have used Active Ankle brand braces inside my hiking boots for many years and have since avoided ankle sprains on the trail.   Before using the braces, I had 3 or 4 ankle sprains that were serious enough to end the hike and necessitate a hobbling return to the trailhead.

Active Ankle T2

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kiliki
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 5:21 pm 
Topical! I rolled my ankle and broke it a week ago, and I very much blame my new Oboz Sawtooth ii hiking shoes.

I have never gotten an official diagnosis, but I would describe my right lower leg as wonky and floppy, and I've had issues with it rolling my whole life. I do plenty of ankle strengthening exercises; I also do Pilates most days, where we do quite a few ankle strengthening exercises too.  Periodically I have had hiking shoes with very thick soles that make me stumble and roll my ankle on the right side. I never have issues in hightop hiking boots. I wear those exclusively on the trail. My current hiking boots are Oboz. I was wearing the low tops on the sidewalk when I tripped over a little twig. I never would've gone down had I been wearing my running shoes, for example.

I can't really explain why I bought these hiking shoes, knowing that I've had trouble with other thick soled hiking shoes in the past. But I did, and instead of hiking in Alaska and communing with the brown bears at Katmai at this very moment, I am home on my deck in a walking boot. This is the first time I've broken anything, so it's a whole new adventure.


Anyhoo. Everyone's going to be different, but for me, as someone that tends to roll an ankle:  Thumbs down to thick soled low tops, thumbs up to high top boots. And BIG HUGE thumbs down to anything with as thick a sole as the Oboz Sawtooth ii, which my husband wants to burn, but I will give away.

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kiliki
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 5:25 pm 
I'm going to amend what I just said a little bit. I think actually I have, when fatigued and when on a descent, rolled my ankle to some extent in hightop hiking boots. But between the high tops, which seem to provide the support my ankle needs, and the fact that I use poles, I've never injured myself.

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Chief Joseph
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 5:42 pm 
I do quite a lot of walking in Crocs and I feel that with them having no ankle support it has then made my ankles stronger.

I have learned to tailor my foot wear to the hike and the conditions expected. If I am carrying a pretty heavy pack and on steep terrain or off trail, I definitely wear my heavy, high top leather boots. For the support as well as the protection.

But if I am hiking on smooth dry trails, then I wear trail runners. It is nice to have a break from the heavy boots. I am heading out for a 3 day backpack into the North Cascades, but it is all on trail and I expect my pack to be around 25-27 lbs, so I am wearing the trail runners.

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Bowregard
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PostSun Sep 05, 2021 5:51 pm 
When I injured my ankle in college I used a similar brace which worked well to avoid further injury but of course also does not allow strengthening.

Slightly off-topic but worth noting:
I rolled my ankle inward and the college doc told me it was likely a bad sprain and would require a cast for 3 weeks then a brace for 3 weeks but he wanted to do a "stress X-ray" to see if it was broken first. "We put your foot on the X-ray table and bend it while we take the image". I told him "that sounds painful" and he said "yeah it hurts like heck but it is the only way to see if it is broken". "What is the treatment if it is broken?". He said "Cast for 3 weeks then brace for 3 weeks". I told him if the treatment was identical we were going to skip the "stress X-ray". Point here is to ask questions - I have a lot of respect for the medical profession but they don't all think it through from the patient's perspective.

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