How to Avoid Having Chronic Ankle Sprains

At Complete Game Physical Therapy, ankle sprains are the most common acute injury suffered in sports that we see. In court sports such as volleyball and basketball ankle sprains have shown to account for up to 30% of time lost to injury.  Field sports such as soccer, football and even baseball also have a high rate of ankle sprains.  If you have an ankle sprain you should see a medical professional to get it taken care of as all too often people try to treat it with some rest and ice.  This injury can become chronic and cause many problems down the road including achilles problems, knee injury, or even back issues.  Below are some simple exercises you can use if you have a chronic history of ankle sprains or just want to avoid them in the first place.

Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobilization - Ankle dorsiflexion is the the motion of moving your foot so your toes get closer to your knee.  This is an important movement in both sports and daily activity and is often limited following ankle sprains.  This restriction, if not addressed, can lead to many problems including plantar fasciitis and achilles tears, as well as knee, hip and even back problems.  A good exercise to prevent these problems is a simple ankle rock exercise:

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Keep your foot flat on the floor so your heel doesn’t come up and gently rock your knee forward.

Ankle Eversion Against Towel- Most ankle sprains are on the outside or lateral ankle which can cause the muscles along the outside of the lower leg and ankle to become weak.  A simple ankle eversion exercise using a towel as resistance can help strengthen these muscles back up.

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Hold the towel for resistance and gently push out against it with your foot.  Think windshield wiper motion.

Single Leg Balance-  Balance can be compromised following ankle sprains.  Basically, the message going from the foot to the brain on how the foot is positioned gets scrambled.  Retraining your ankle simply requires working on single leg balance.

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Stand on one leg while lifting the other leg up so the thigh is parallel to the floor.  If this is easy, try it with your eyes closed.

If you currently have an ankle sprain or any other medical condition that will impact exercise, please consult your doctor or other medical professional before trying the exercises.  Otherwise, these simple exercises can help reduce the after effects of ankle sprains whether you are an athlete, a former athlete or just trying to stay active.