5 Exercises That Can Help Prevent Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments on the outer side of your ankle overstretch or tear, and they are one of the most common injuries. You can sprain your ankle pretty much any time: during a high-intensity game of basketball or even simply stepping off a curb the wrong way.

Ankle sprains that aren’t treated properly or allowed to recover can lead to long-term pain and dysfunction. If you do sprain your ankle, call Hoosier Foot & Ankle, but there are steps you can take to prevent an injury in the first place.

These five exercises are quick and simple enough that you can easily incorporate them into your daily workout, during the warmup or cooldown phase.

1. Ankle circles

Sit on a chair, raise one leg, and cross it over the opposite knee. Slowly circle your ankle in one direction 10-15 times — reverse and repeat. Ankle circles help to increase your range of motion and combat stiffness any time you’re seated, whether that’s at the office, at school, or just watching TV.

2. Ankle alphabet

Similar to ankle circles, ankle alphabet is an exercise that can improve the overall range of motion in your ankle. Sit in a chair and stretch one leg out in front of you, letting the foot hover in the air. Draw out the alphabet one letter at a time by pointing, flexing, and circling your ankle. Some letters may look better than others, but you’re not being graded.

3. Toe-heel walks

Toe-heel walks target the muscles of your calf as well as those in the front around your shin. Tightness or weakness in these muscles can lead to ankle instability.

Start with toe walks, stepping forward on the balls of your feet for about 30 steps. Next come the heel walks, leaning to the backs of your heels and lifting your toes off the ground as you walk the same distance.

Now, combine the two movements for your last 30 paces by stepping forward with your heel and rolling forward to your toes. Perform a calf raise at the very end of each step. Make an effort to move slowly and precisely.

4. Single leg balance

Single leg balance exercises build ankle strength. Start by standing on just one foot while you do simple tasks like brushing your teeth or washing dishes. Over time, add a challenge by standing on one foot on an unstable surface, such as a Bosu ball, Dynadisk, or firm pillow. Work up to being able to balance on one foot for a minute at a time.

5. Thera-Band range of motion exercises

Use a long stretch of a latex band to perform range of motion exercises for your ankle. The resistance of the band improves your range of motion and strength in multiple directions.

Wrap the band around the top of your foot and then point your foot away from your shin. Next, pull the toes toward your shin. Rotate the ankle in toward your midline and then away. Move slowly through these Thera-Band movements, holding for several seconds at each point.

For more information on ways to strengthen your lower legs and reduce your risk of experiencing an ankle injury, call one of Hoosier Foot & Ankle’s five Indiana locations, or book a consultation online.

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