We demand a lot from our ankles, even when it doesn’t seem obvious. After all, we need these delicate structures to help us stand, balance, move, and support our body weight. That means they need strength and flexibility in order to function. However, the complexity of the ankle’s structure also leaves it vulnerable to injury, especially ankle sprains.
When you sprain your ankle, you stretch or tear the tough ligaments that hold your ankle bones together. Anyone of any age can develop these injuries, whether they’re active or not. In fact, 25,000 Americans sprain an ankle every day, and more than 1 million end up in emergency rooms each year.
Marque Allen, DPM, brings more than 20 years of experience in sports medicine and podiatry to people in San Antonio, Texas. By visiting one of our two Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio offices, you can find solutions for all your foot and ankle problems, including ways to maintain an active lifestyle without injury.
If you want to avoid an ankle sprain, Dr. Allen recommends following these simple tips.
First and foremost, wear the right footwear. If you’re an athlete, choose shoes designed for the sport you play so that they provide support and stability. They should also fit properly and correct foot issues, like flat feet or high arches.
Similarly, avoid shoes that increase your risk of ankle sprain, like high heels — one of the leading causes of ankle sprains in women.
Even if you’re in a rush to get in the game or start your run, don’t ditch your warm-up. Taking 2-3 minutes to stretch and warm up helps get the soft tissues in your ankles ready for activity. It’s only a few minutes, but this simple step makes muscles, tendons, and ligaments more flexible and able to tolerate quick movements and absorb impact.
Likewise, taking 2-3 minutes at the end of physical activity to cool down can also help avoid injury.
More is better, right? Not necessarily. Instead, when you push yourself too hard or too quickly, you put yourself at risk for injury, especially when you’re new to exercise or you’re a weekend warrior.
Instead, take it slow and pace yourself. It takes time to build strength and stamina — think of it as a marathon, not a race! Make sure you take the time to work on your technique and condition your body before progressing to the next level.
While anyone can sprain an ankle, certain factors can increase your chances of this injury, including:
Your chances of an ankle sprain are also higher if you have had an ankle injury in the past.
We know what you’re thinking — exercise your ankles? However, performing regular exercises can help increase the strength, flexibility, and stability in your ankle joint while improving your balance at the same time.
Dr. Allen recommends ankle exercises like squats and lunges, simple stretches, and even core strengthening to safeguard your body from ankle injuries
No one wants to slow down, especially if it means taking a step back from an activity you enjoy. However, trying to “power through the pain” or push through your workout even when you’re tired is a surefire way of experiencing an injury.
Instead, listen to your body and avoid activity when you experience any pain or fatigue. Taking the time to rest when you need it can help prevent a lengthier recovery time if you need to heal from a more serious injury, like an ankle sprain.
Finally, if you have an ankle sprain or instability in the joint, visit a specialist who can determine the extent of your condition and offer personalized treatment recommendations to keep you active and injury-free.
For more tips on preventing ankle sprains, contact one of our offices by calling or booking an appointment online today.