Athletic Trainer: Meghan Gray MS, ATC, LAT, CES
Please do not hesitate to call or email me with any questions or come talk to me at the games!
Athletic Training Injury Prevention Tips
Ankle Sprain… How can I prevent it?
One of the most common injuries in high school athletics are ankle injuries, specifically ankle sprains. Studies have shown that up to 73% of athletes who sustain an ankle sprain experience recurrent ankle sprains and 59% report functional loss long-term symptoms that impacted athletic performance (Yeung et al, 1994). Given these statistics, what can you do to prevent first time or recurrent ankle sprains?
Flexibility: Flexibility in the calf is an important piece to preventing ankle sprains as these muscles control ankle motion. A tight calf will prevent the ankle from moving through full flexion (bringing the toes up to the ceiling) which can place the foot in a position susceptible to sprains during gait.
- Prevent it! Sit with both legs out straight. Keeping the knee straight, place a towel around the ball of your foot and bring the foot back as far as possible. Repeat again with the knee flexed. Hold both for 30 seconds each.
Strength and Balance: Strengthening the lower extremity muscles will reduce the incidences of ankle sprains because the body will be able to control motion more efficiently. Targeting the calf muscles specifically will provide more stability for the ankle and foot. Balance is important in preventing injuries as well. Proper balance and awareness of the body will train the body to respond efficiently to situations that may force the ankle past its normal range of motion (think rolling your ankle – your body will respond quicker to bring your ankle back to normal position).
- Prevent it! (1) Calf raises: Stand with feet together and raise up on the balls of your toes. Repeat 15 times and do 2-3 sets. For more of a challenge do this exercise on one foot at a time. (2) Balance: Stand on one foot and balance for 30 seconds. Make more challenging by closing the eyes, balancing on an uneven surface, or balancing on the ball of your foot. (3) Single Leg Reach: Stand on one leg and squat down, reaching forward to tap the ground with heel of the opposite foot. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 times and do 2-3 sets on both feet. (4) Step Ups: Facing a step, place one leg up on the step and raise the opposite knee up to hip height as if you are going up the stairs, driving up through the ball of the stance foot. Slowly lower. Repeat 10 times and perform 2-3 sets on both legs. (5)Agilities: Agility drills such as double leg and single leg hopping in place, side to side hopping, and jumping up and down from a step will improve strength and power in the ankle. Perform 20-25 of each agility jump/hop.
Stability: If you are an athlete who has already sustained an ankle sprain, in addition to stretching and strengthening you may want to invest in an ankle brace or consider getting your ankle taped. Once sprained, the ankle joint will never fully restore its integrity which means those ligaments may be looser than they were before. An ankle brace or ankle tape will help give the ankle that extra support it may need to prevent re-injury in conjunction with the above strengthening exercises.