Strengthen Your Ankles to Prevent Injury

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You run down the field, stop and change direction—movements you've performed hundreds of times—but this time something goes wrong. On the cut, your foot rolls inward and you tumble to the ground in pain. You have suffered an ankle injury, the most common injury in sports.

Your ankles are vulnerable every time you step on the field or court. You might cut too hard, causing your ankle to roll, or you might come down from a smash at the net and accidentally land on a teammate's foot.

Female athletes take note: several studies, including one in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, found that female athletes were more likely to sustain an ankle injury than their male counterparts. The study contends that this may be due to differences in training.

An easy solution to the problem? Strengthen the muscles around your ankles to provide extra support to the joints. And a great way to way to get this done is with the Three-Way Ankle Band exercise. Favored by the University of Maryland Women's Soccer Team, it strengthens ankle muscles by moving the foot in three directions, ensuring the development of support around the entire joint.

Perform this exercise at the beginning of your lower-body workouts.

Three-Way Ankle Band

  • Sit on ground with legs straight and resistance band around foot
  • Dorsiflex foot toward knee
  • Release and repeat for specified reps
  • Invert foot toward center of body
  • Release and repeat for specified reps
  • Evert foot away from center of body
  • Release and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2x12-15 each movement, each leg

Coaching Points

  • Start with dorsiflexion by bringing relaxed toes toward knees
  • Perform inversion by bring big toe toward body
  • Finish with eversion by bringing big toe out from body
  • Maintain stable leg and avoid curling foot
  • Use slow, controlled movements

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock