Ankle Sprain – How to Prevent it?

Ankle, Blog, / By Winsen Citra

When I was growing up, I played volleyball in school. I was one of the poorer players in the team because I kept injuring my ankle. I would roll and sprain my ankle frequently. It prevented me from jumping higher and doing those leaps that my friends seemed to do with ease. After studying physiotherapy, I eventually found out that there are ways to manage ankle sprains and I will share them with you in this article.

Why do I Get Ankle Sprains?

Lateral Ankle Sprain
Lateral Ankle Sprain

The most common way to sprain your ankle is to roll it laterally as shown in the picture. This causes you to stretch some of the ligaments in your ankle and sometimes even tear it. You may think that it is quite an awkward position to put your ankle in, and you won’t ever perform this motion. However, this happens often when you land wrong after jumping, catch your toe on something, or step off a curb awkwardly.

After you roll your ankle the first time, it is easy to do it again. This is because your ligaments become lax after the first time. Having said that, some people are just more naturally predisposed to rolling their ankle because of the shape of their foot arches, or just their foot posture and gait pattern in general. It is, therefore, imperative that you get yourself assessed to know exactly why you get ankle sprains in the first place. But, in the mean time, here are things you can do to prevent sprains.

5 Tips To Prevent Ankle Sprains

Choosing the Right Footwear

This is where the assessment of the type of foot and gait you have matters. Without knowing if you’re flat-footed or have an atypical gait, it is impossible to choose the right shoes for yourself. Furthermore, knowing what activity your shoes will be worn for matters too. If you plan to play a sport with lots of jumping, like volleyball, choose a shoe that supports the ankle. When hiking, purchase hiking shoes with adequate ankle and arch support that help your ankle accommodate to the terrain. When running, be aware of the surface. Gravel, sand, and uneven pavement create increased stress to the ankle ligaments when your foot lands.

Strengthen your muscles

You may find this very difficult to believe. Your hip and core stability plays as much of a role in determining how you strike the floor as the surface that you are stepping on. Strong lateral leg and ankle muscles along with solid strength in hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals and core muscles produce better alignment and support as you walk and run. Weakness in any of these muscle groups will make it much more likely that you ankle lands in that awkward lateral position.

Improve Your Balance

You have sensors in your joints that detect any changes to its position due to movement. These are called proprioceptors.They send signals to your brain about the position of your joints when you move. The brain then send back a signal to your muscles to tell them what to do in order to keep yourself balanced and upright. My patients, and myself, who had previous ankle sprains, proprioception is impaired. The good news is that proprioceptive training is very effective in restoring balance reactions and preventing recurrent ankle sprains. Below, I have provided a video of an easy exercise for you to improve your balance.

Improve Your Ankle Range

Many of my patients who have had recurrent ankle sprains have reduced ankle range. This affects how you walk. Improving your ankle range with stretching exercises is imperative to restore that normal walking. This is essential in preventing ankle sprains. Of course, it would be much better if a professional guides you in retraining your gait so that you don’t pick up bad habits.

Use Your Big Toe

One of these bad habits that people pick up I mentioned in the previous point is walking towards the pinky toe side of the foot. This means that they put more weight on the outside of their foot.The next time you walk, try to feel if the weight of your body is centered on your foot or it is on the outside of your foot. When your foot is behind you, most of your weight should flow through the big toe as your foot rolls off the ground. If you are not using your big toe, then you have an atypical gait pattern that you should ditch immediately as it encourages your foot to roll laterally.

Below is a quick and easy exercise that you can follow in order to improve your ankle balance. We hope this article has been useful to you. If you have any questions, please drop us a line! Check out our YouTube channel for more helpful videos like below and our blog for more articles like this.