Wake Doctor: Ankle Strengthening for Strong Knees

We all worry about knee injuries when it comes to wakeboarding, but what if it was your ankle to blame for putting your knee at risk?

wakeboarding workouts
After Gunner Daft blew his knee, he focused on strengthening his ankles with simple exercises.Tyler Soden

Strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee is important, obviously, but if you miss one of the weak links in the chain, all the work you do to strengthen your knees may not pay off.

Ankle sprains lead to a permanent loosening of the ligaments that hold the foot and ­ankle together. When this happens, the integrity of the foot is not maintained and the arch falls, which leads to pronation. Pronation causes the tibia to internally rotate and the knee to buckle inward. With small forces, perhaps it is too slight to notice; however, with greater forces like in wakeboarding, this impact can create a much bigger problem, such as damage to the meniscus, MCL or the ACL.

To prevent this problem, work on ankle stability exercises like drawing the alphabet with your foot, standing on a stability board (like a Bosu ball), and calf raises. Secondly, you can create an inexpensive and disposable orthotic to wear while riding to support your arch and prevent it from collapsing if yours is not strong.

You will need two pieces of athletic tape about 6 to 8 inches long. Begin in front of the ankle, wrap all the way around the bottom of the foot, and anchor the tape back on itself. The second piece will begin ­directly under the big-toe joint and also continue under the foot and anchor back on itself. Tape with your foot in a neutral and nonweight-bearing position. Be careful not to wrap too tightly. When you put weight on your foot, the tape will become snug.

  • If any discomfort is felt, discontinue use.
wakeboarding recovery
Gunner Daft post-opTyler Soden

About the Wake Doctor: Abby Delgoffe is a chiropractor and clinic director at Orlando Sports Chiropractic and has been a competitive wakeboarder at the pro level for five years. She travels not only to compete but also to treat athletes for the WWA World Series. For more, check out wakedr.com.