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4 Easy Exercises to Improve Ankle Stability (and Reduce Injury)!

One of the most prevalent injuries seen in sports is an ankle sprain. Whether you play volleyball, baseball, softball, basketball, football, or soccer, it can be a common injury. To demonstrate its frequency, a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine followed 312 amateur soccer players over a two-year period. During this time 208 ankle injuries were recorded and 139 of these injures were ankle sprains. Wow, 139 ankle sprains among 312 players! These injuries led to an average of 7 lost sessions (practices and games) per injury. Injury rates were equal between practices and games and data showed that having a previous ankle sprain was a strong predictor of a new ankle sprain injury.1

So, what can be done to help reduce the incidence of these injuries? Luckily, we do have some research that shows there are ways to help athletes stay healthy. The most scientifically accepted injury reduction methods are listed below.2

1. Proper warm-up

2. Regular cool-down

3. Adequate rehabilitation with sufficient recovery time for existing injuries

4. Proprioceptive training (See pictures and video below)

5. Protective equipment

6. Good playing field conditions

7. Adherence to the existing rules

From the above list, we have covered the importance of proper warm-up and cool-down in previous blog posts. So in this post, we will focus on the proprioceptive training aspect of injury prevention. Here are 4 different proprioceptive exercises that athletes can perform to help reduce their injury risk to the ankle.

1. Single Limb Heel Raises:  Perform as many as possible to fatigue. Attempt to maintain control and balance.

2. Side Lunge:  Push back to starting position once in side lunge position.  Make sure to maintain proper loading mechanics through the trunk, hips, knees, and ankles.

3. Single Limb RDL’s:  Maintain balance throughout movement. Perform to light fatigue.

4. Single Limb square hops:  Focus on control and balance. Make sure you hop in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.

If you have any further questions about ankle injuries or ways to decrease the risk of injury to the ankle, contact Omaha Physical Therapy institute today!  We specialize in the treatment of ankle and foot injuries!

Brent Cordery, PT

References:

  1. 1.  Ankle sprain injuries and risk factors in amateur soccer players during a 2-year period. Kofotolis ND, Kellis E, Vlachopoulos SP. Am J Sports Med. 2007  Mar;35(3):458-66. Epub 2007 Jan 11
  2. 2. Foot and Ankle Injuries in Professional Soccer Players: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Expectations. Nery C, Raduan F, Baumfeld D. Foot Ankle Clin. 2016 Jun;21(2):391-403. doi: 10.1016/j.fcl.2016.01.009. Epub 2016 Apr 25.

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