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Say Goodbye to Ankle Sprains: Tips to Keep Your Ankles Strong and Healthy.



If you're anything like me, you know the struggle of dealing with ankle sprains. Whether it's from a misstep on a hiking trail or a clumsy move during a cage football game, those pesky ankle sprains can really put a damper on your active lifestyle. But fear not! I'm here to share some tips and tricks to help you prevent those ankle injuries and keep you on your feet.


First things first, let's talk about what exactly an ankle sprain is. Essentially, it's when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch or tear, usually due to sudden twisting or rolling of the foot. Ouch, right? But the good news is that with proper preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of spraining your ankle again.


So, what are these magical preventative measures, you ask? Well, let's dive in:


1. Build Up Your Strength: One of the best ways to prevent ankle sprains is by strengthening the muscles around your ankles. Studies have shown that incorporating exercises like calf raises, ankle circles, and resistance band exercises can help improve stability and support [1].


2. Proprioceptive Work: Proprioception refers to your body's ability to sense its position in space. Incorporating proprioceptive exercises into your routine can help improve balance and coordination, which are crucial for preventing ankle sprains. Try activities like single-leg balance exercises, wobble board drills, or using balance pads to challenge your stability and fine-tune your proprioceptive skills. By honing your body's awareness and control, you'll be better equipped to navigate uneven terrain and react quickly to sudden movements, reducing the risk of injury [2].


3. Don't Skip the Warm-Up: We've all been guilty of skipping the warm-up from time to time, but trust me, it's worth it. Research has found that spending a few minutes doing dynamic stretches and movements before engaging in physical activity can help prepare your muscles and joints, reducing the risk of injury [3].


4. Invest in Proper Footwear: Your choice of footwear can make a world of difference when it comes to ankle health. Shoes that provide good support and stability, especially if you're engaging in activities that involve a lot of lateral movement, can help reduce the risk of ankle injuries.


5. Mind Your Terrain: Be mindful of the surfaces you're walking or running on. Research has shown that uneven terrain, slippery floors, and rocky paths can increase the likelihood of rolling your ankle. Stay alert and watch your step [4].


6. Listen to Your Body: Last but not least, listen to what your body is telling you. If you're feeling fatigued or notice any discomfort in your ankles, taking a break and giving yourself time to rest and recover is crucial. Pushing through pain is never a good idea and can lead to more serious injuries down the road.




Blog By: Emre Oz (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Crouch Physio).



References:


1. Smith, T.O., Davies, L., Hing, C.B. (2012). A systematic review to determine the most effective interventions for acute ankle sprain. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 46(2), 83-85.


2. Verhagen, E., Van der Beek, A., Twisk, J., et al. (2004). The effect of a proprioceptive balance board training program for the prevention of ankle sprains: a prospective controlled trial. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(6), 1385-1393.


3. Woods, K., Bishop, P., Jones, E. (2007). Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Medicine, 37(12), 1089-1099.


4. Milgrom, C., Shlamkovitch, N., Finestone, A., Eldad, A., Laor, A., Danon, Y.L., Lavie, O., Wosk, J. and Simkin, A., 1991. Risk factors for lateral ankle sprain: a prospective study among military recruits. Foot & ankle, 12(1), pp.26-30.

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