A hiker asks Outside magazine’s fitness guru how to build stronger ankles. Turns out previous injuries that haven’t healed properly can cause weakness down the road:

In addition to being born with loose ankles, you can also develop them due to a past ankle injury that never healed properly. When this happens, the ankle loses some of its original stability or soundness. The next time you land on it wrong and twist it, the joint snaps much easier than the first time it was injured. Compounding the problem is the healing process: When swelling occurs in a joint, the neural network that controls your muscles has a harder time doing its job. People often re-injure their ankle while tripping over something seemingly mundane, like stepping off a curb.

The reply lists a series of exercises for strengthening the connective tissue around the ankles. One example:

Single leg balance: Without any support, stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Repeat six times with each leg. Begin with your eyes open, then progress to standing with your eyes closed. Once your master that, move on to standing on a slightly bent knee.

I’m not sure I can stand on one leg for 30 seconds even with perfectly healthy ankles. And forget about that eyes-closed thing. Read the whole piece for more complete ankle-care tips.