As a certified athletic trainer, one of the most common sports injuries I see is the inversion ankle sprain, in which the ligaments tear when the foot turns too far inward. If athletes would just devote 10 minutes each day to ankle strength, they would go a long way toward preventing this type of sprain.
This spring, in my personal athletic training facility, I implemented a policy of "If you don't want to be taped, perform a 10-minute ankle strengthening program." It's worked so far, cutting down on ankle sprains and freeing some athletes from taping their ankles.
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The program is fairly basic. It focuses on strengthening the surrounding muscles that keep the ankle from inverting too far. Balance also plays a key role in preventing ankle issues, and that is also addressed in the program.
Give this a try for a few weeks, and I promise you will see positive results.
- Perform two sets of each exercise for each ankle whether you have ever sprained them or not.
- Perform all exercises without shoes to maximize flexibility.
4-Way Resistance Band
Using a resistance band, hang your feet off the edge of a table and turn your ankle inward (inversion), outward (eversion), straight down (plantar flexion), and toward your face (dorsiflexion). Do each exercise with tension on the resistance band in the opposing direction.
Single Leg Calf Raise
With one knee flexed, do a full calf raise on the opposite leg for slow and controlled repetitions.
Stand on the floor and close your eyes for 30 seconds as you balance on one leg. As it gets easier, progress to standing on a foam pad, Dyna Disc, etc.
Sets/Duration: 2x30 seconds
Walk forward 15 feet using only your toes, then turn around and return to the starting point, walking on your heels. Do two sets.
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