An ankle sprain is a devastating injury to anyone, but especially if you're an athlete or enjoy physical activity. While you can't always prevent a freak accident from happening, you can take a few simple steps to decrease your risk of a sprained ankle.
Injury prevention is one of the ways the team at Sports Medicine Associates in San Antonio and Alamo Heights, Texas helps their patients. Dr. Marque A. Allen is a foot and ankle specialist who provides cutting-edge treatments for ankle injuries when they strike.
Understanding an ankle sprain
A sprained ankle is a common injury in sports but also happens from everyday activities like stepping off a curb or walking on a path. When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments in your joint either stretch too far or tear, causing various symptoms which include:
- Trouble bearing weight
Ankle sprains range from mild to severe, and the symptoms usually mimic the injury. More severe damage may swell quickly and cause intense pain, while a minor injury might not be noticeable initially.
If you suffer an ankle sprain, you're looking at several weeks off the field or away from your normal activities. Depending on the damage in your ankle joint, many sprains take about six weeks to heal fully.
How does stretching help?
Your ankles are at the base of your body, providing the rest of your joints with stability and support. However, if your ankles are weak or tight, you're at a higher risk of ankle sprain or injury.
Stretching and building strength in your ankles is the best way to avoid severe ankle injuries. When you properly take care of your ankle joints, there's a smaller chance that you'll get hurt during physical activity or a simple misstep off of a curb.
When you properly stretch your ankles regularly, you keep the muscles and ligaments loose and supple, providing stability to your joint.
Stretching before physical activity also warms your muscles, making them less prone to injury. When you pair regular stretching with strengthening exercises, your risk of an ankle sprain decreases dramatically.
Ankle stretches to focus on
Whether you're an elite athlete or enjoy an afternoon jog, keeping your ankles healthy is the best way to prevent injuries. Dr. Allen recommends focusing on specific ankle stretches to strengthen your joint and keep your muscles supple.
To prevent ankle sprains, focus on the following ankle stretches before physical activity or as part of your daily routine:
Draw the alphabet
This stretch is as simple as it sounds. Lay on your back and with one ankle at a time, flex your foot and draw the entire alphabet, from A to Z. Switch ankles and perform again, focusing on stretching each ankle during the process.
Standing calf raises are another great way to keep your ankles in shape. Start by standing on a step or an exercise platform, and hold on to something for support. Lift yourself onto your tip toes until you feel the stretch. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat ten times per ankle.
For this stretch, lie on your back on the floor. With both ankles, point your toes away from your head towards the front of the room. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds at a time and repeat.
Supine dorsiflexion is similar to plantarflexion, just the opposite stretch. Start lying on your back, and pull your toes toward your head. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds as well, and repeat several times.
Practice these stretches every day for optimal ankle stability and strength. Even with the best stretching techniques, however, ankle sprains may still happen.
If you suffer a sprained ankle, Dr. Allen provides a fast diagnosis and expert treatments to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
Call the Sports Medicine Associates office most convenient to you today to get care for your sprained ankle. You can also request an appointment with Dr. Allen on our website.