How to Prevent Ankle Sprains

Learn the best exercises to prevent ankle sprains from STACK expert Paul Landi.

Ankle Injury

Ankles sprains are the most common injury in sports. The ankle joint absorbs tremendous force when an athlete sprints, changes direction and lands from a jump. However, preventive measures can limit the chance of re-injuring an ankle after a sprain (find out how to rehab a low ankle sprain).

The best way to prevent ankle sprains is to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint to withstand force. You need to go beyond simple Calf Raises. The joint moves 360 degrees, so you must increase stability in all directions. Of particular concern is the area on the outside of the ankle, since most sprains involve an inward roll.

Below are three exercises that will help reduce the risk of a future ankle sprain. Perform them twice a week for best results.

Glute Bridge

This exercise indirectly protects the ankle by improving hip stability. It's low impact, so it's a great way to regain strength and control if an injury occurs.

  • Lie with back on ground, knees bent and heels on ground
  • Raise hips into bridge position so only feet and shoulder blades touch ground
  • Hold for specified duration, keeping straight line from knees to shoulders
  • Lower to start and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x12-15 , with 2-second hold

Glute Bridge

Resistance Band Eversions

This exercise directly engages the muscles and supporting structures of the ankle that prevent inward ankle rolls.

  • Sit on ground and wrap lightweight resistance band around right foot
  • Wrap remainder of band around left foot and hold to create resistance against right foot
  • Rotate right foot to right against resistance
  • Rotate back to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-4x12-15 each leg

Single-Leg Quarter Squat

This more advanced exercise challenges the ankle to maintain balance and stability.

  • Balance on right leg
  • Keeping weight on heel, initiate movement by driving hips back
  • Squat until thigh is near parallel to ground
  • Explode out of squat position
  • Repeat for specified reps
  • Perform on left leg

Sets/Reps: 3-4x12-15 each leg

Single-Leg Quarter Squat

Photo: spireinstitute.org


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