As an athlete, we have almost all sprained or twisted our ankles wrong at least a time or two. These injuries may have landed us a spot in the sports trainers room or even in the doctor’s office because of a serious ankle injury. Due to the alarming number of ankle injuries in athletes, wouldn’t it be nice to know how to prevent them?
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in athletes and even the everyday person due to the weak musculature surrounding the ankle. Walking on uneven ground, pivoting quickly, running, walking on the beach – you name it, you can sprain your ankle doing it.
Your ankle is the first joint that touches the ground when walking or running so no wonder why it is injured all of the time. The most common type of ankle sprain is a lateral ankle sprain; this is when your ankle rolls out to the side. Once you sprain or have an injury to your ankle, it can cause micro tears to the ligaments causing an increased risk of another sprain.
Most of the time when we sprain our ankles, we put a brace or tape the ankle to give support to the ankle to prevent from happening again. Although this is a good short-term solution while the pain is going away, this is not a good long-term solution due to the continued weakening of the ankle because we have an outside source doing the job of the ankle.
The top ways to prevent ankle sprains are to overall strengthen the ankles and other musculature surroundings. Here are the top ways to prevent ankle sprains and strengthen your ankles:
- Stretching prior to exercise
- Heel raises – raises your heels off the ground, hold for 5 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat 20 times.
- Toe raises – raise your toes off the ground so you are on your heels, hold for 5 seconds and slowly lower. Repeat 20 times.
- Ankle ABC’s – trace the ABC’s with you ankles and get them moving!
- Resisted ankle range of motion – using a resisted band, wrap around your foot and do resisted inversion, eversion, dorsiflexion and plantar flexion.
- Single leg balance – stand on one leg and balance. Challenge this even further by standing on an uneven surface or closing your eyes. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 4-5 times on each leg.
As I am sure you have heard before, many people automatically go right to the RICE method of protection for an ankle sprain which is:
R: Rest – rest and protect the injured or sore area.
I: Ice – apply ice or a cold pack to the injured area to prevent swelling and pain.
C: Compression – compression or wrapping the injured area to help prevent swelling or decrease swelling
E: Elevation – elevate the ankle to help alleviate some of the swelling
Another method to an ankle sprain is the MEAT method which stands for:
M: Movement – controlled movement of the limb can stimulate blood flow to the area which is proven to accelerate the healing process. This does not mean to continue to do what you did to injure the ankle; simple ABC’s of your ankle, just to keep the blood flowing and your ankle moving.
E: Exercise – This goes hand in hand with the above statement for movement; controlled movements such as active range of motion, ankle ABC’s, circles and weight shifting.
A: Analgesics – take something to help alleviate the pain you are having ; it is best to find a natural way to fight inflammation and not take anti-inflammatory medication which can hinder and slow down the process
T: Treatments – seek treatment by going to see a physical therapist. During physical therapy treatments, they are able to utilize modalities to increase blood flow, and know the appropriate exercises for the time being.
A combination of these two methods is the best way to help heal a sprained ankle. You want to give the ankle the rest that it needs depending on the severity of the injury, but you also need to keep it moving or you will slow down the process even more.
For those of you who want to learn how to prevent any injuries and avoid any pain go to our website, HERE for a free course on the foot and ankle and learn some exercises you can do right now to help strengthen and get ready for flip flop season.
If you are ready to get started right away, then do not hesitate to give a call at 610-841-3555 and get started on the path to healing right away.
Thanks all for now! Feel free to post any questions in the comments section below and if you sign up for a course you will be able to get to stay on top of all things Robbins Rehab!