I inherited many traits from my grandmother. Her hazel eyes, her inclination to let her husband do all the cooking, and, without a doubt her weak ankles. Or so I thought. While not particularly klutzy (although it’s probably no accident that my competitive sport of choice growing up was swimming), I used to fall down. A lot. Seriously. I could be walking, slowly, in flat shoes on flat pavement and wipe out. In every case, I fell because my ankles rolled to the outside. While I may be my grandmother’s granddaughter, this was not an issue of inheritance—I was a chronic inverter. The wear patterns on the heels of my shoes confirmed it—I walked on the outsides of my feet.

Our feet are designed to bear our weight and propel us, thanks to three cleverly designed arches (see related blog for more detail). When walking most efficiently we slightly pronate our feet so our toes will all land at the same time and our big toe is best positioned to push off. In this case, the medial arch is doing what it does best—absorbing shock and springing us forward. People who over-pronate roll to the insides (medial aspect) of their feet and can wind up with distortions in their knee and hip alignment. Those of us who supinate (or under-pronate) land on the outsides (lateral aspect) of our feet. There is far less spring and movement available in the lateral arch than in the medial arch. It is an incredibly rigid and inefficient foot strike, which explains why my running stride always felt more like a jackhammer and less like a pogo stick.

Unlike some family characteristics, this one was easy to change. By strengthening my Fibularis Brevis through foot and ankle flexibility exercises (posted below, and also on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Feet & Ankles) I have been able to correct how my foot lands, balance my stride and I don’t fall down much anymore. Although I still let my husband do all the cooking. Some family traits are worth preserving.

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