Did you trip and fall? Jump for the ball and land awkwardly? Accidentally had another person step on your foot? All these activities can lead to a painful sprained ankle.
In fact, 23,000 ankle sprains occur every day in the United States. That’s over 8 million ankle sprains a year!2
One study in The Journal of Family Practice states that “In many sports, ankle sprain is the most common injury, partly because an athlete who incurs a first ankle sprain is at increased risk of another. The risk of reinjury is highest in the year immediately following the initial sprain.”2
So how can you keep your ankles safe? Reduce your risk of re-injury with these exercises! So you can continue to live your daily life or stay in the game.
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle and it stretches or tears the ligaments (the bands of tissue that hold your ankle bones together).
Exercise is one of the most important rehab steps to help you avoid a painful re-sprain in the future. Whether you’re an athlete or just injured yourself during your daily life, you know recovering from a sprain can interrupt your life. Reduce your risk of another ankle sprain!
Get the Facts!
For football players with an increased risk of ankle sprain, one study found a 77% reduction after single-leg balance training with the TheraBand Stability Trainer3
One study found that exercise programs that include unstable surfaces (like balance boards and foam pads) reduce the risk on ankle injury in soccer players by 40%4
In an 18-week training program using elastic resistance bands, balance boards, and foam mats the exercise group had a 35% reduced risk of injury compared to the control group and had significant improvements in balance.5
Learn why improving your balance is more important than strengthening your ankle in this video! Then find out how you can start exercising.
Place your right foot through the end loop of a CLX resistance band
Place your left foot through the subsequent loop
Place your left foot through the subsequent loop
Quickly kick your right leg out to the side keeping your knee straight
Return to your starting position, then kick out again without putting your foot down
Repeat on the other side
2. Single Leg Stance on Unstable Surface
Stand on one leg on top of a TheraBand Stability Disc, with a chair nearby for support if needed
Attempt to balance for at least 30 seconds
Repeat with the other leg
Progress to more difficult balance challenges following the list below
It’s easier to maintain your balance on firm surfaces than on unstable ones and with your eyes open, not closed. Another way to challenge your single leg balance is by following the progression on this list. Once you have mastered the first exercise, move on to the next step on the list. Stand on one leg for thirty seconds on the surface listed, with your eyes either open or closed.6
Firm surface (floor) - eyes open
Firm surface (floor) - eyes closed
Foam surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Green) - eyes open
Foam surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Blue) - eyes open
Air-filled textured surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Black - side 1) - eyes open
Air-filled smooth surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Black - side 2) - eyes open
Wobble board surface (TheraBand Wobble Board) - eyes open
Progress to balancing on the disc on foot at a time
Progress to balancing both feet on the stability disc and throwing a medicine ball on a rebounder (your gym or high school might have one)
Progress to balancing on the disc one foot at a time and throwing a medicine ball on a rebounder
7. Evertor/Peroneal Strengthening Exercise 1
Attach your resistance band to a secure point
Walk away holding the band until you feel good resistance
Balance on the foot closed to the attachment point
To increase the challenge, go up onto the ball of your foot
Turn around and repeat, standing on the other leg
8. Evertor/Peroneal Strengthening Exercise 2
Stand on a wobble board with both feet and shift your weight so the board moves in a circle, use a chair for support if needed
Progress to balancing on one leg and moving back and forth and forward and backward on the board
9. Bosu Balance Exercises
Perform a forward lunge onto the blue center of the Bosu Ball, repeat with the other leg
Progress by beginning to step ever so slightly to the side of the center when you lunge (not too far, you don’t want another ankle sprain), repeat with the other leg
Progress by standing to the side of the Bosu Ball and stepping out onto the blue center with one foot, repeat from the other side with the other leg
Progress to standing facing the ball and jumping onto the ball on one foot, repeat with the opposite leg, slowly increase your jump distance and velocity
Should athletes wear an ankle brace after an ankle sprain?
Several studies have confirmed that ankle braces can prevent recurrent ankle sprains.8
Prolonged immobilization can cause muscle weakness. But if you’re an athlete only wearing braces during your sport, there is no evidence that ankle muscles get weaker during the season.
If you answer yes to at least two of these questions you should consider an ankle brace for now. Through weight training and agility training, the muscles surrounding the ankle continually get stronger without having to brace.
Do you have a history of ankle sprain?
Do you have residual ankle instability?
Do you participate in a high-risk sport or position?
Choose a rigid or semi-rigid brace for the most support or a lace-up or sleeve for more mobility.
Hayman, J., Prasad, S., & Stulberg, D. (2010). Help patients prevent repeat ankle injury. The Journal of Family Practice, 59(1), 32–34. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/394OZIy
Moore, R. (2016). One Simple Exercise Reduces Ankle Sprains in Football Players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3oasiHh
Moore, R. (2016). Build an Ankle Injury Prevention Program for Off-Season Soccer Players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sLQgMl
Page, P. (2012). Simple balance training program reduces ankle injuries in basketball players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sLZ58Z
Moore, R. (2018). Are You Prescribing the Wrong Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation Exercises? Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/39Vne4n
Maghsoodi, A. R. (n.d.). The Best Ankle Sprain Prevention Exercises. P[REHAB]. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Y4QaBn
Page, P. (2018). To Brace or Not to Brace: That is the Question! Cramer Sports Medicine. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3iAdJvs
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