Ankle sprains often happen during rapid changes in direction in sports such as netball, soccer or rugby, or when walking on uneven ground. During these changes in direction multiple forces act on the ankle and supporting musculature requiring the ankle to adapt, support and then aid propulsion.
The human foot and ankle unit are engineering marvels with thirty-three joints made up off twenty-six bones, thirty-three muscles (20 within the foot, 13 in the lower leg) and lots of connective tissue. When we have strong coordinated feet/ankles and appropriate footwear is worn risk of ankle sprains is minimal. When the ankles are weak and/or uncoordinated to minimise risk of injury, orthotics, strapping and/or ankle braces may be required. Somewhat like training wheels on a kids bike these support function until higher level strength and coordination are developed which is required for during these physically demanding activities.
To quickly check your quality of ankle function try these exercises (barefoot)…
1. Slow and smooth ankle circles clockwise for 10 repetitions and counterclockwise for 10 repetitions, if the movement is jerky or a tremor develops at a certain points through the circle then poor ankle coordination is indicated and you are at risk of ankle sprains.
2. Stand shoulder width apart with the feet parallel, drive the big toe into the ground and smoothly rise up into a calf raise taking 5 seconds to reach the top, hold at the top for 5 seconds, then take 5 seconds to slowly lower yourself down. Rest and repeat 5 times. If your feet roll in or outwards and loading comes away from the big toe during any of the movement then your ankles are weak and you are at risk of ankle sprains.
3. Stand on a wobble board or small cushion on one foot and have a friend throw a ball to your chest at first and progressively to your outer reach with a few high, low and wide throws, if you can balance and catch each throw and exercise 1. & 2. where easy you've got strong ankles, good coordination and with appropriate footwear your risk of ankle sprains is low!
So ask yourself are your ankles strong or weak, co-ordinated or uncoordinated. For further information just click the “contact” button above and get a specialist assessment from our Podiatrists to determine the best way to prevent ankle sprains this sporting season.
Here at Simply Feet Podiatry we stock a wide range of ankle braces, custom made orthotics and offer tailored exercise programs to keep you injury free this year!