Any injuries are annoying and can seriously hamper your training gains. Ankle sprains account for the most common injuries in a number of sports including volleyball, field hockey and squash. Sprains to the ankle are the most common injury to this joint and unfortunately often recur once originally done.
The most common risk factor for a sprained ankle is previous sprain, so putting in some preventative exercises to avoid this common injury would be prudent. Also if you are unfortunate enough to sustain an injury of this type, proper and thorough rehab is of crucial importance to avoid future issues.
So what is a sprained ankle?
A sprain is an overstretching or tearing of the ligaments around a joint. Sprains are graded depending on severity and range from a grade 1, where a few ligament fibres are overstretched to a grade 3 which is a complete rupture of the ligament.
The most common ankle sprain is a lateral sprain, where the foot turns inwards and the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are compromised. This injury can occur due to faulty landing mechanics, landing on someones foot or stepping into a hole, and is commonly known as 'rolling your ankle'.
Below is a few exercise ideas of things that can be done to prevent this annoying injury. These prevention exercises are best done at the start of the workout, when there is no neural fatigue and the smaller muscles involved in balance aren’t fatigued. These exercises assist in getting the body ready for a workout also so are an efficient use of time.
Preventing injury means no missed workouts, and no frustrating regressions. So add these simple exercises into your warm up as soon as you can.
1. Single Leg Balance
Keep the knee soft, and stand on one foot for 30 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
To make this harder, try standing on a balance pad or wobble cushion. This challenges the proprioception of the ankle and forces the muscles surrounding the joint to contract to prevent the joint moving into a dangerous range. This builds strength and gives these muscles a better chance of providing a strong contraction to prevent injury if the joint is suddenly jolted inwards during sport or a fall.
2. Single Leg Calf Raise
Complete on both sides with both a bent and straight knee. Raise up onto the toes are high as possible and control downwards.
This exercise is best done off a step so the heel can drop below the neutral position. This exercise builds strength of the calf muscles giving greater strength and control into jumps take offs and landings. This reduces the risk of faulty landing mechanics.
3. Single Leg Cone Touches
Set out two cones out in front of you. Perform a single leg squat whilst leaning forward to touch the cones, repeat on both legs.
So there you have it, 3 simple exercises that can be done to prevent ankle sprains. Also once a professional has been consulted, these could be added into your rehab to redevelop those crucial stability mechanisms of the ankle.