The ankle is a bit of a forgotten joint next to the more publicized knee, but it should be front and center in a conversation about figure skating.
If you’ve ever gone to a professional skate fitting, it is likely you’ve heard about how a boot supports the ankle. It’s important. Your ankle should be locked down and cushioned appropriately to prevent injury on the ice. It is not uncommon for this to be to the only time, outside of injury, for skaters to consciously think about their ankles.
So what’s a skater to do? The short answer is: not neglect their ankle. Maintaining a healthy range of motion for the joint is crucial for putting out the best performance. Your ankle is an incredibly mobile joint. You should be able to point your foot, flex your foot, and make large circles with in both directions with ease. If not, you’ve got a restriction and you’ll need to work on it. Ankle restriction or not, skaters should get in the habit of warming up their ankles before stepping onto the ice and doing the same exercises after skating to maintain healthy ankles. If you need additional exercises to strengthen your ankle, seek out a fitness or sports professional.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t rely on your boots to hold up your ankle for you; you should rely on your body to hold you up properly. And that means, you have to actively work toward making that happen with stretches and exercises designed to help your joint stay flexible, strong and healthy.