What Works for Preventing Ankle Sports Injuries?
Any time a sports injury occurs to your ankle, it should be a game-stopper.
Even when you believe an ankle injury is something you could continue playing or performing on, that never means you should.
Not respecting sports injuries can quickly lead to more severe and longer-lasting damage. This is especially true for the ankle, where improper healing and pressing your luck can lead to increased chances of sprains, chronic instability, and arthritis – all conditions that could require surgery in the future.
Which is why the best policy for your ankles is a proactive one: taking steps to prevent sports injuries in the first place!
Now, ask any pro athlete and they will tell you there is no way to drop your risk of a sports injury to 0%. As long as you’re moving, there’s always at least a small chance that something will go wrong. But that said, there are plenty of excellent steps you can take to not only greatly reduce your overall risk of trouble, but also help injuries to be potentially less severe if they do happen to occur.
A great place to start? Your shoes.
Find Supportive Footwear
Finding good ankle support in athletic shoes is much more than just getting a pair of high tops (in fact, it’s not clearly confirmed that high tops on their own do much for your ankles in the first place).
Different sports and activities place different demands on your ankles. Some place more repetitive impact force upon the area, while others require much more pivoting and lateral movement.
First, make sure the shoes you are using for any particular activity are designed with that activity in mind. A pair of running shoes, for example, will not serve your ankles on the basketball court as well as a pair of shoes made specifically for that sport.
Then make sure those shoes fit properly and provide support and stability throughout the foot – not just around the ankle. A deep heel cup and proper treads will also help keep your feet in place. The better you can keep your feet from rolling, the better protected your ankles will be.
You do not have to try to figure this all out on your own, either. We can help you determine the best shoes for your needs, and a trained associate at a sporting goods store can often provide sound advice as well.
Strengthen and Condition Your Ankles
Just like almost every other part of your body, you can train your ankles to better endure the challenges they face. Good conditioning can help prevent sports injuries and lessen the severity and recovery times of injuries that do happen.
The ankle is a very versatile joint, so exercises and stretches should focus on strength, flexibility, and balance. You not only want to withstand impacts, but increase your overall reaction times and stability to keep you well on your feet.
There are plenty of exercises you can do for your ankles, ranging from simple repetitions you can perform in front of the TV to more complex maneuvers that might be better executed in a gym or with the proper equipment. A few of the exercises easier to perform anywhere include:
- Raising one foot slightly above the ground and holding the position steady while closing your eyes (might not be as easy as you expect!).
- Rising up on your tiptoes, holding the stretch in your calf muscles, then slowly lowering back down.
- While sitting, lifting your foot and slowly yet deliberately rotating your ankle in big circles.
We can once again help you build a workout plan that incorporates ankle exercises that best meet your needs and goals. Whatever exercises you attempt, always be sure to perform them properly and have available support around if needed to avoid injury (because it would be sadly ironic if that happened).
Consider Taping and Bracing
The added external support of an ankle brace or proper taping can help reduce ankle injury risk.
This route tends to be more optional for many people. A brace is an investment, and taping is something you may have to learn. However, if you have suffered ankle injuries in the past, we may recommend either of these techniques to you as ways to acquire more needed stability.
Elastic bandages have not been as proven to be useful in preventing ankle sports injuries, but they may be something to consider for your particular needs.
Expert Ankle Care – Now and Anytime You Need It
We are more than happy to help our patients build preventative care plans to avoid foot and ankle sports injuries. We want to see you moving and doing what you love without pain and problems getting in your way!
But if misfortune does happen, we are also here to get to the root of the problem and provide personalized treatment to get you back into action as quickly and safely as possible. Conservative treatments will most often suffice, but you will also be in good hands should surgical intervention be required.