8 Tips for Avoiding Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains are incredibly common and usually occur when the joint twists unnaturally because of an awkward foot plant, instability on uneven ground, or application of undue force. A sprain usually affects the ligaments or tendons of the joint, causing pain and making it difficult to do daily activities or participate in athletics.
You’re vulnerable to an ankle sprain during sports play, when running or walking, or doing something as simple as getting out of bed. Omega Physical Therapy can help you recover from an ankle sprain, but it’s better to avoid one altogether. Reduce your risk of an ankle sprain by following these tips.
Warm up to work out
Before sports practice, a recreational run, or even a game of pick-up with your friends, warm up your entire body, including your ankles. Drastic changes in your activity level make you prone to tripping or twisting. To avoid injury, walk briskly for several minutes before you play, do some ankle circles, lunge and squat, or perform jumping jacks before you dive into play or a workout.
Wear the right shoes
You may start up an impromptu flag football game, but you’re probably better sitting out if you’re outfitted in flip flops. Even if you have athletic shoes, make sure they fit properly and are designed for the activity in which you’re participating. For example, stiff basketball shoes aren’t the best choice for a 10K run and can make an ankle sprain more likely.
Slow down when you’re fatigued
If you’re starting to burn out or you feel pain, you’re more vulnerable to making a misstep that can result in an ankle sprain. If your body is tired or you have pain that’s altering your gait in any way, it’s better to sit out and avoid injury.
Focus when you’re on uneven surfaces
Stepping off a curb, landing in a hole, or tripping over a rock are common causes of an ankle sprain. If you’re running on a trail, pay close attention to the terrain and be willing to slow down. Before entering a game on an unknown field, inspect it for holes and mild bumps that could trip you up and cause a sprain.
Perform balance training
When you perform balance exercises, you improve your body’s ability to control itself in space. This makes it less likely that a simple trip will cause an ankle sprain. Balance training doesn’t have to be complicated – try standing on one foot while brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. If you’re at the gym, stand on one foot on a half ball or balance pad.
Train for flexibility
Poor range of motion and stiffness in your calves, thighs, hips, and torso affect your ankle’s stability and range of motion. Stretch after most workouts for 5-10 minutes, and spend some of that time doing ankle circles and pointing and flexing movements at the ankle joint.
Strengthen your ankle
Talk to the team at Omega Physical Therapy to learn simple ankle-strengthening exercises that can protect you from a sprain. When you strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint, you become less susceptible to ankle injury. Rubber resistance bands or a simple towel can offer resistance as you point and flex your foot to provide greater strength to the joint.
Tape weak ankles
If you know you have weak ankles and are going to participate in a sport, ask the staff at Omega Physical Therapy about taping the joint. Tape provides subtle support without compromising your mobility. Some people may even benefit from wearing an ankle brace.
And, if you do suffer an ankle sprain, come to Omega Physical Therapy for treatment and rehabilitation. Call the office, or book an appointment today.
Author Dr. Dmitry Shestakovsky Director of Rehabilitation at MTE Physical Therapy with a focus on manual therapy with an emphasis on osteopathic and spinal manipulation in evaluating and treating musculoskeletal and neuromuscular dysfunction.