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8/02/2017 8:22 am  #1


How to not bust an ankle?

I'm having a pretty serious issue with my ankles this year..
About a month ago I rolled my ankle pretty bad on the portage from Daisy->Hambone. This was my right ankle. I walked it off but when I got home it was very swollen and I couldn't walk on it for a few days, but me being stubborn I went on a canoe trip the week after. To this day that ankle is still causing me a fair bit of grief and the swelling never actually went away. I had to actually wear a brace on the 3k portage between Manitou and Three Mile the other day.

Yesterday I was heading down Maple Creek, and on the last portage before Kiosk I rolled my OTHER (left side) ankle. When this one happened I heard a loud crack and a pop... I instantly hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. I was single carrying at the time so I had my 50lb canoe on my back as well as my 50 or so lb pack. Again I tried to walk it off but this one hurt(s) a little bit more than the last one. I struggled to finish the portage, and now that I'm home I literally can't put any weight on it what-so-ever. I think a visit to E-R might be on order.

When BOTH incidents happened I was wearing above ankle Merrell Hiking boots, which I keep fairly tight to give as much support as possible. Do I need to purchase better boots that give more support? Do I just have weak ankles? Or am I just pushing myself too hard? I really don't know what to do, I primarily solo trip and if this happened a few portages in I'd be screwed. I always carry a tensor bandage but I don't think that would help me much with the amount of pain I'm in today.

Any recommendations for a new pair of boots?
Any exercises I can do to strengthen  my ankles?

 

8/02/2017 8:34 am  #2


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

I once had a sales rep explain that there is a difference between boots that offer ankle protection and ankle support. Ankle protection essentially just makes sure your ankles are protected from scrub and sticks. Ankle support means the boots have more structure in the ankle that actually supports you. 

I think he said ankle protection is more common than ankle support. I have Vasque Breeze boots that the sales rep said had ankle support. 

But, I've never heard this anywhere else and I can't independently verify it's accuracy.

My best guess is that you're trying to carry too heavy of a load on difficult terrain. I know that when I get tired, my foot placement gets lazier and I'm more prone to make a mis-step - especially if I'm carrying a lot.

Is double carrying when the terrain is extra tough or your tired an option for you?

Also, I'm so sorry, that hurts and sucks so much. 

 

8/02/2017 8:35 am  #3


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

Good topic and you should definitely get both ankles looked at. The pop could easily be a tendon or ligament snapping. 

My first suggestion would have been proper hiking boots, but you were already wearing them. Now I would prefer a leather boot rather than a lightweight Merrell style boot but I can't definitively say that the Merrell's don't have the same structural support. I've been using Asolo boots for my hiking boots. They are a good quality leather upper, but I would prefer it if they had a stitched on sole. 

Second suggestion is to lighten the load. General guidance is to carry no more than 1/3 of weight. I'm pretty sure you aren't pushing 300lbs, so carrying 100lbs of canoe and pack would be in excess of that.

Lots of folks consider single portaging essential, but I've never bought into that. Backpacking is one thing, but once you start canoeing you've added a minimum of the canoe, paddles, spare paddle, safety bucket  and PFD's. We all know about the heavy loads that the real Voyageurs used to carry, but as someone on MyCCR pointed out a long time ago - many Voyageurs died in their 30's from strangulated hernias. 

Here's hoping your ankle heals up quickly.
 

 

8/02/2017 8:41 am  #4


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

CanoeClaire wrote:

I once had a sales rep explain that there is a difference between boots that offer ankle protection and ankle support. Ankle protection essentially just makes sure your ankles are protected from scrub and sticks. Ankle support means the boots have more structure in the ankle that actually supports you. 

I think he said ankle protection is more common than ankle support. I have Vasque Breeze boots that the sales rep said had ankle support. 
...

I think that's a really good way to describe the difference and yes the Vasque boots would be likely to provide good ankle support. 

 

8/02/2017 8:46 am  #5


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

Claire - This is good to know.. looks like I have to do some research! I think I will have at least a week ahead of me where I wont be doing much anyways. Usually I do double carry, but for this trip I got all my gear down to a single pack so I single carried on the easier portages. When I rolled my ankle it was on a small rock about the size of a baseball believe it or not.. the trail was actually in great shape. When I rolled the last one on the Diasy to Hambone portage I was double carrying and it happened on a very small root. It doesn't seem to take much for me.

Rob - Thanks for the reply.. my boots are indeed leather (I'm not sure of the model). That's interesting about the weight! I only weigh 185lbs so I guess in theory I should most definitely be doing double carries. I'm just happy it happeed on the last portage of my trip.. if this happened on the 3k between Manitou and Three Mile I'd still be stuck out there. I guess thats why I carry an InReach.

Last edited by ATVenture (8/02/2017 8:48 am)

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8/02/2017 8:51 am  #6


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

I'm really liking tho looks of the Vasque boots, I might have to go check them out at SportCheck. 
My girlfriend just got me a pair of Merrell hiking 'shoes' which I think I'll have to return for something that offers ankle support.

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8/02/2017 10:17 am  #7


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

ATVenture wrote:

I'm really liking tho looks of the Vasque boots, I might have to go check them out at SportCheck. 
My girlfriend just got me a pair of Merrell hiking 'shoes' which I think I'll have to return for something that offers ankle support.

The Merrell shoes are pretty popular - my own regular footwear, so don't be too quick to return them.

I regularly portage in my Keens but on more rugged trips like the whitewater sections of the Petawawa I'll wear proper hiking boots. 

Even leather can come in different thicknesses and weights. The Asolo boots I've used most recently are a heavier leather than the Garmont's I had before that. Had a good talk with an Asolo rep at Adventure Guide here in Waterloo when I got the first pair of Asolo boots. What I'd really like is a pair of the Zamberlan's that MEC carries: 
https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5024-120/Tofane-NW-GT-Backpacking-Boots

Catch is (besides the price) they only stock them in a few locations and on the rare occasion I've been able to get into Toronto when I'm looking for boots they either haven't had any in stock, or at least not my size. 

 

8/02/2017 7:36 pm  #8


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

Part of the problem may have been that the first ankle hadn't healed yet, and still had your attention - conscious and non-conscious.   It doesn't take much, especially if you are compensating unknowingly, or you are focusing on one versus the other.  Last year I fell with the canoe for the first time since I was 17, so whatever 51 - 17 is that's a pretty good span.  What got me was a very small nub of a root that I saw but didn't care because it was so small.  My ankle crumpled like tin foil and down came the boat-shaped hat.  I hadn't been nursing an injury, just terrible ankles to begin with, and I would be embarrassed to show you how small that root was.  Just a bump. But it takes so little.  I was lucky, my ankle came out of it with no injury.

My ankles are on the weak side for sure, the joint doesn't align well, I had some physical therapy years ago for pain in there that involved some stretching and certain exercises, and the difference was remarkable.  But they remain susceptible to crumpling when there's strong lateral influence, and sometimes just picking my way through junk in the garage I struggle for balance.  My boots are Keens, I like them a lot, but as far as ankle support goes...meh. I'm sure they would classify as ankle protection not support.  STILL, I think I prefer that.  The difference would be wearing something that prevents the ankle from moving, and in my mind, I want the ankle to be able to move around over the variable terrain.  It helps retain flexibility and even develop a little strength there.  If I wear something that significantly restricts that motion, the knee has to deal with more of the lateral strains that it isn't built for, and if the boot is severe enough, it is pretty easy to lose your balance in general.  I think of it this way - with ankle protection/moderate support, probably more than what I wear, my ankle adjusts for uneven terrain.  If I restrict that significantly, I can't get "good" on an uneven surface, and it doesn't take a whole lot to topple me.  A boot with ankle support that still allows your ankle to engage in some motion is probably part of the answer, and part of the answer is, as the ankle said to the foot, "let me heel!" http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
   I hope you get past these injuries quickly, I know that pain well, it is anti-fun.  

 

8/09/2017 10:03 am  #9


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

I've always had terrible ankles and I still roll them (I wear a pair of Vasques I just don't recall the brand) and have rolled them less.  Typically when I do roll my ankles, they don't sprain anymore.  The tendons are so stretched I end up hobbling from the damage there.
Although it still happens occasionally to me, I've also made a better point at Stretch my ankles and warming them up before the day.  There are numerous stretches and exercises to do and I have noticed I recover faster. 
To expedite your healing process, although sprains are often times FAR worse than breaks (in healing time) RICE them up and DO NOT wear unsupportive footwear like filp flops while you're back at home. 

Good luck with the heal and definitely try the warm ups before you hit the trail, it just might help you as well!

 

8/09/2017 10:57 am  #10


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

I've always had terrible ankles and I still roll them (I wear a pair of Vasques I just don't recall the brand) and have rolled them less.  Typically when I do roll my ankles, they don't sprain anymore.  The tendons are so stretched I end up hobbling from the damage there.
Although it still happens occasionally to me, I've also made a better point at Stretch my ankles and warming them up before the day.  There are numerous stretches and exercises to do and I have noticed I recover faster. 
To expedite your healing process, although sprains are often times FAR worse than breaks (in healing time) RICE them up and DO NOT wear unsupportive footwear like filp flops while you're back at home. 

Good luck with the heal and definitely try the warm ups before you hit the trail, it just might help you as well!

 

8/13/2017 11:00 am  #11


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

There is actually a lot of data that supports the notion that "ankle support" does not help...

https://www.reddit.com/r/AdvancedBackpacking/comments/27ptbv/research_articles_from_ncbi_debunking_the_myth/
..but the more one reads, this idea seems to apply only to people with normal ankles.

Some studies show that ankle braces are a good idea for people with "weak" ankles:

https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/13910/is-ankle-support-a-myth

I guess you could read all these posts and studies while you are convalescing :-)
Good luck with the recovery! 

 

Last edited by Methye (8/13/2017 11:11 am)

 

8/22/2017 7:18 am  #12


Re: How to not bust an ankle?

I ended up purchasing Merrell Phaserbound boots at Ramakko's in Sudbury. The boots weren't on sale unfortunately and were a bit pricey for me (249.99+) but I'd rather cough up the coin vs. break an ankle in the middle of nowhere when I'm on a solo trip. I tried on some Vasque boots as well, which were around the same price, but I prefer the leather vs. the goretex membrane. The lady at Ramakko's was superb! She knew her stuff that's for sure.. so glad I went there instead of SportCheck here in North Bay. I have already done one trip on the new boots (Mag-Misty-White Trout-Timberwolf-Out) and they were great! The difference between the new boots and my old worn out Merrell's was significant. Very happy with my purchase thus far. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

https://drms3v40st3o6.cloudfront.net/f/13593/135938505/merrell-phaserbound-waterproof.jpg


Another factor was the Vibram sole.. my old Merrell's had the same sole (just much older) and you couldn't ask for better grip on wet rocks, roots, etc.

Last edited by ATVenture (8/22/2017 7:19 am)

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