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The Top 9 Exercises to Prevent Ankle Sprains

The Top 9 Exercises to Prevent Ankle Sprains

The Top 9 Exercises to Prevent Ankle Sprains

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).

How do I Treat an Ankle Sprain?

How to Prevent Ankle Sprains in the Future

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!

sports balls

  • Football Players
    • 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
  • Soccer Players
    • 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
  • Basketball Players
    • 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.

The Top 5 Exercises for Ankle Sprains from

Dr. Phil Page, PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS, FACSM

For these exercises you’ll need:

TheraBand CLX Resistance Band

TheraBand CLX Resistance Band

TheraBand Stability Trainer

TheraBand Stability Trainer

TheraBand Rocker & Wobble Board (optional)

TheraBand Rocker & Wobble Board (optional)


1. CLX Quick Kicks

  • 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

Balance Progression

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

  1. Firm surface (floor) - eyes open
  2. Firm surface (floor) - eyes closed
  3. Foam surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Green) - eyes open
  4. Foam surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Blue) - eyes open
  5. Air-filled textured surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Black - side 1) - eyes open
  6. Air-filled smooth surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Black - side 2) - eyes open
  7. Wobble board surface (TheraBand Wobble Board) - eyes open
  8. Foam surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Green) - eyes closed
  9. Foam surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Blue) - eyes closed
  10. Air-filled textured surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Black - side 1) - eyes closed
  11. Air-filled smooth surface (TheraBand Stability Trainer Black - side 2) - eyes closed
  12. Wobble board surface (TheraBand Wobble Board) - eyes closed

3. Monster Walk with CLX

  • Place one of the center loops of the CLX band around each of your ankles and hold one end in each hand
  • Stand with a slight bend in the knees and hips
  • Take 3 steps to the left, keeping your back straight
  • Take 3 steps to the right, keeping your back straight
  • Repeat

4. CLX Hip Abduction with Foot Loop

  • Place your right foot through the end loop of a CLX resistance band
  • Place your left foot through the subsequent loop
  • Hold the band in your hand providing resistance
  • Slowly kick your right leg out to keeping your knee straight
  • Return to your starting position, then kick out again without putting your foot down
  • Repeat on the other side

5. CLX Eversion and Dorsiflexion Combined

  • Sit in a chair
  • Place your feet through the middle loops of a CLX resistance band
  • Flex one foot upwards toward your body and then out to the side (away from the midline)
  • Hold briefly and return to your starting position, then repeat
  • Repeat with the other foot

4 Additional Ankle Exercises from the [P]REHAB Guys

For these exercises you’ll need:

TheraBand Stability Disc

theraband stability disc

Economy Rebounder

Economy Rebounder

TheraBand CLX Resistance Band

TheraBand CLX Resistance Band

TheraBand Wobble Board

TheraBand Wobble Board

Bosu Ball

Bosu Ball


6. Stability Disc & Rebounder Balance Exercise

  • Stand with both feet on a stability disc
  • 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.

  1. Do you have a history of ankle sprain?
  2. Do you have residual ankle instability?
  3. 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.

Explore your options!

Active Ankle T2

Active Ankle T2

Active Ankle AS1 Pro

Active Ankle AS1 Pro

Active Ankle Model 329 Heel-Lock Ankle Support

Active Ankle Model 329 Heel-Lock Ankle Support


More Ankle Sprain Info. for Athletes

rainbow athlete outlines

References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Sprained Ankle. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://mayocl.in/3aaOhZN
  2. 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
  3. Moore, R. (2016). One Simple Exercise Reduces Ankle Sprains in Football Players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3oasiHh
  4. Moore, R. (2016). Build an Ankle Injury Prevention Program for Off-Season Soccer Players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sLQgMl
  5. Page, P. (2012). Simple balance training program reduces ankle injuries in basketball players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sLZ58Z
  6. Moore, R. (2018). Are You Prescribing the Wrong Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation Exercises? Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/39Vne4n
  7. Maghsoodi, A. R. (n.d.). The Best Ankle Sprain Prevention Exercises. P[REHAB]. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Y4QaBn
  8. Page, P. (2018). To Brace or Not to Brace: That is the Question! Cramer Sports Medicine. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3iAdJvs

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.