Athletes are notorious for sprained ankles, but you don’t have to play sports to find yourself a victim of this painful injury. Sprained ankles can happen to anyone, anywhere — all it takes is a misstep, turn, or twist, and you’re down for the count.
Fortunately, our team of double-board certified podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center specialize in diagnosing and treating sprained ankles for folks throughout Wheat Ridge, Arvada, Thornton, Evergreen, and Granby, Colorado. However, we’d much rather help you prevent a sprained ankle than treat it, so we’ve compiled this list of ways to avoid the injury altogether.
1. Focus on your core
Believe it or not, you can help prevent an ankle injury by strengthening your core, the muscle groups in your torso and hips. A strong trunk takes some of the pressure off your ankles when you change directions, but a weak core allows your body to continue moving in the original direction. Your ankles can’t control the force, so they give in.
2. Strengthen your ankles
This may seem obvious, but many people neglect their ankles when they work out. Instead, they focus on the larger muscle groups, like legs and arms. You can increase your ankle strength with single-leg exercises, such as lunges, squats, and resistance training with elastic bands.
3. Work on your balance
When you’re off balance, you’re at risk for injury, including an ankle sprain. To improve your balance, you need to improve the teamwork between your eyes, ears, nerves, and muscles. This is called proprioception, and it enables you to sense your body’s placement and movement in the space around you and anticipate what’s about to happen.
You can practice better balance by standing on one foot when you’re doing simple tasks like brushing your hair or teeth. Eventually, your nerves train your stabilizing muscles, and your balance gets better.
4. Know your terrain
You can easily sprain your ankle by walking on rocky ground, rutted roads, or lumpy grass. Uneven terrain causes your foot to slip and your ankle to roll inward or outward, stretching your ligaments. This is where good balance, strong ankles, and a strong core come into play. If your body is prepared, you may avoid a sprained ankle when you walk or run on bumpy ground.
5. Wear the right shoes
Every sport has unique equipment specially designed to keep you safe. Basketball shoes are different from baseball shoes and soccer shoes for a reason. Whether you run, play tennis, or cycle, your shoes matter and can keep your ankles stable.
If you’re not an athlete, you’re not off the hook. Wear supportive shoes that fit your activity, and if you wear high heels, know that your ankles are in constant danger, so be sure to strengthen them and perfect your balance.
6. Wear braces
If your ankles are weak or you play a high-risk sport like volleyball, a little extra support can keep you in the game. Taping your ankles or wearing sport-specific ankle braces ensures your safety.
To learn about how we diagnose and treat sprained ankles and help you avoid reinjury, contact us online or by calling one of our five locations.