If you’ve sprained your ankle, you know it takes time to heal; meanwhile, you’re out of action on the field or the court if you play sports. You’re more at risk of an ankle sprain if you play sports in which you twist or roll your feet, like tennis, football, basketball, or soccer. Even if you’re not an athlete, spraining your ankle likely changes your plans for the near future. Perhaps you tripped over a curb or fell on uneven pavement.
At Coastal Empire Orthopedics, our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Shults, treats many cases of sprains and strains. As a sports medicine specialist, Dr. Shults focuses on injury prevention. He counsels you on ways to prevent ankle sprains:
Exercising with tight muscles is inviting an injury. Warming up before exercising or playing sports helps prevent injuries. Warming up raises your body temperature, which includes your muscle temperature, and improves your circulation. Increased blood flow to your muscles means they receive more oxygen. Life-giving oxygen helps your muscles expand and contract easily, readying them for more intense action.
When you’re tired, you’re more prone to injury. Take a break before that third set of tennis. Hydrate. Build in rest days if you’re training for a sports event.
You’re more likely to sustain an ankle sprain if your ankle muscles are weak. Find a physical activity you enjoy and stick with it, whether dancing, gardening or just walking in the neighborhood.
Dr. Shults can show you specific stretches and exercises to help strengthen the soft tissue surrounding your ankle. Protect your ankles from injury by performing specific exercises geared to strengthen them. Perform ankle stretches before the ankle exercises. Following are just a few sample stretches and exercises.
While sitting in a chair, raise your leg and make slow, intentional circles with your ankle. Work up to 30 circles in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. You’re ensuring full range of motion.
Holding on to a banister, stand on the edge of a step, raise your heels slowly, so you’re balancing on your toes, and slowly lower your heels. Repeat this ten times.
Learning to balance on one leg makes your ankle stronger and more resistant to injury. Try it with support nearby — for example, while washing dishes in the sink. You want to be able to catch yourself if you start to tilt. See if you can build up to 30 seconds of balancing on one leg.
Working with a simple latex band can help strengthen your ankles. Sit on the floor, place the band around the ball of your foot, pointing toward the ceiling, and hold the end of the band with your hands. Push your toes away from you 20 times, then towards you for 20 more. Next, rotate your foot to one side and then the other 20 times each.
For comprehensive orthopedic care and injury prevention, call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment online today.