A 3-Part Strategy for Preventing Ankle Injuries

July 11, 2012

Must See Sports Injuries Videos


Ankle sprains are the most common injuries in sports. A simple misstep can damage your joint and land you on the sideline. Fortunately, you can actively prevent ankle injuries with a mobility, stability and strength program.

Before going into a training program, it's important to understand the anatomy of the foot and the structure of the ankle joint.

The ankle is an extremely mobile joint, supported by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Seven muscles extend the ankle, four flex the ankle and four support the inside and outside of the joint. However, mobility comes at the cost of stability.

The most common type of ankle sprain is when the foot rolls inward. This is called an inversion sprain. The ankle is primed for a sprain when the toes are down and foot is pointed inwards. The problem is that the ankle is designed to move easily into this position. So, you have to train to counteract it by strengthening muscle groups that oppose this movement.

Mobility

To prevent ankle sprains, you must improve mobility by reducing tightness and stiffness on the inside of the calf. Vigorously perform self-myofascial release (similar to massage) with a stick, foam roller or tennis ball.

Stability

The next step is to increase single-leg joint stability. Perform exercises that involve standing on one leg and reaching the other leg behind the body or sideways to activate the lateral calf muscle, which is an important ankle stabilizer.

Strength

The last drill is Toe Walks. Simply walk on your toes—specifically your big toes. This alignment activates the lateral part of the calf and teaches the ankle to load the big toe (and not the pinky toe). If the force is on the outside part of the foot, it's more likely to roll.

Typically these drills are performed only after an athlete injures an ankle and is preparing to return to competition. My suggestion is to perform them as part of a warm-up, rest station or cool-down—before an injury occurs. The greatest predictor of injury is previous injury. Make sure to prevent the first one.

Photo: Chris Turner Photography on Flickr

Bryan McCall
- Bryan McCall, CSCS, is the performance director for the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center at SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio). He has worked in the performance...
Bryan McCall
- Bryan McCall, CSCS, is the performance director for the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center at SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio). He has worked in the performance...

Featured Videos

Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,267,361
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 197,143
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 4: Skill Training Views: 396,957
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,189
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,450,145
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,255
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,920,916
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 6,134,125

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

As an athlete, an Achilles tendon injury means major downtime and a long road to recovery. However, with more modern rehab programs as well as a...

Avoid ACL Injuries in Softball with PREP

Avoid ACL Injuries in Softball with PREP

3 Steps to Alleviate a Sore Neck

3 Steps to Alleviate a Sore Neck

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

How to Prevent Hamstring Injuries

How to Prevent Hamstring Injuries

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Reducing Low-Back Pain: What You Need to Know

Reducing Low-Back Pain: What You Need to Know

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Train With Running Blisters

How to Prevent In-Season Volleyball Injuries

How to Prevent In-Season Volleyball Injuries

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

What’s With the Stethoscope? Heart Murmurs in Athletes

What's With the Stethoscope? Heart Murmurs in Athletes

Megan Rapinoe’s Secret to Staying Healthy

Megan Rapinoe's Secret to Staying Healthy

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

4 Tips to Relieve Muscle Stiffness

4 Tips to Relieve Muscle Stiffness

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

6 Stretches to Alleviate Lower-Back Pain

6 Stretches to Alleviate Lower-Back Pain

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

STUDY: Female Athletes Are at Higher Risk of Overuse Injuries

STUDY: Female Athletes Are at Higher Risk of Overuse Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

3 Steps to Prevent Soccer ACL Injuries

Fix 3 Common Ankle Problems to Prevent Injury

Fix 3 Common Ankle Problems to Prevent Injury

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Preventing ACL Injuries in Soccer Players

Preventing ACL Injuries in Soccer Players

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Dry Needling: Powerful, Drug-Free Pain Relief for Athletes

Dry Needling: Powerful, Drug-Free Pain Relief for Athletes

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

Why Tommy John Surgery Is Ruining Pitchers

Why Tommy John Surgery Is Ruining Pitchers

YardBarker