Ankle Sprain Prevention

Sprains are injuries to the tough ropelike fibers (ligaments) that connect bone to bone. Ankle sprains can keep an athlete from competing from one to two days to as long as six weeks, depending on the severity. The athlete and coach can help reduce the potential for serious ankle sprains.

Ankle Injuries

The first component in ankle injury prevention is proper flexibility.

Stretching of the calf muscle is important in preparing that muscle for the demands of jumping and running. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds; repeat three times. It is important to gradually stretch without bouncing. Pain should not be felt while stretching.

Ankle Injuries

Strengthening is the next component. A simple program consisting of heel walking and calf raises can strengthen muscles surrounding the ankle. Thirty seconds of heel walking can help in strengthening the front portion of the ankle (the dorsi-flexors). One set of 30 calf raises can be done to strengthen the calf muscle (gastroc/soleus) group. Ankle weights or resistive rubber band exercises can be done to strengthen the muscles on the inside and outside of the ankle (posterior tibialis and peroneal.)

Ankle Injuries

The last component is proprioception. Our bodies have receptors that exist within muscle tendons, ligaments and other soft tissue structures surrounding the joints. These receptors, which are responsible for relaying information back to our central nervous system on joint position, have to be trained to respond quickly to help decrease the potential for injury. A simple exercise that can help is a single leg balance. Stand on one leg only for 30-60 seconds. Repeat three times. Begin with eyes open, and progress to eyes closed. Change legs. Once you have that mastered, stand on one leg and perform a half-squat, one set of 15. Do each leg. Progress from holding on to a table to no hands to eyes closed.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© 1995-2017 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy