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The Top 9 Exercises to Prevent Ankle Sprains

The Top 9 Exercises to Prevent Ankle Sprains

The Top 9 Exercises to Prevent Ankle Sprains

Did you trip and fall? Jump for the ball and land awkwardly? Accidentally had another person step on your foot? All these questions might be what you asked someone when they came into your clinic with an injured ankle.

Sprains are one of the most common injuries sustained in Canada.9

One study in “The Journal of Family Practice” states, “In many sports, ankle sprain is the most common injury, partly because an athlete who incurs a first ankle sprain is at increased risk of another. The risk of reinjury is highest in the year immediately following the initial sprain.” 2

So how can people keep their ankles safe? They can reduce their risk of re-injury with these exercises, so they can continue to live their daily life or stay in the game.

Key Takeaways

  • Ankle sprains stretch or tear the ligaments in the ankle.
  • Exercise is one of the most important rehab steps to help avoid a painful re-sprain in the future.
  • Use resistance bands and stability trainers to help strengthen ankles in athletes.

Top Products in This Article

Table of Contents

What is an Ankle Sprain?

How to Prevent Ankle Sprains

Get the Facts

The Top 5 Exercises for Ankle Sprains from Dr. Phil Page, PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS, FACSM

Balance Progression

4 Additional Exercises from the [P]REHAB Guys

Should Athletes Wear an Ankle Brace After an Ankle Sprain?

Explore Ankle Brace Options

What is an Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain is an injury that occurs when someone rolls, twists, or turns their ankle and it stretches or tears the ligaments (the bands of tissue that hold your ankle bones together).

How to Prevent Ankle Sprains

Exercise is one of the most important rehab steps to help avoid a painful re-sprain in the future. Whether someone is an athlete or just injured themselves during their daily life, recovering from a sprain can interrupt basic activities. Reduce someone’s risk of another ankle sprain by giving them this advice!

Get the Facts

sports balls

Football Players

  • For football players with an increased risk of ankle sprain, one study found a 77% reduction after single-leg balance training with the THERABAND Stability Trainer.3

Soccer Players

  • One study found exercise programs that include unstable surfaces (like balance boards and foam pads) reduce the risk of an ankle injury in soccer players by 40%.4

Basketball Players

  • In an 18-week training program using elastic resistance bands, balance boards, and foam mats, a study found the exercise group had a 35% reduced risk of injury compared to the control group and had significant improvements in balance.5

Learn why improving your balance is more important than strengthening your ankle in this video! Then read more about how to help someone start exercising.

The Top 5 Exercises for Ankle Sprains from Dr. Phil Page, PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS, FACSM

For these exercises you’ll need:

THERABAND CLX Resistance Band

theraband clx resistance band

THERABAND Stability Trainer

theraband stability trainer

THERABAND Rocker&Wobble Board (optional)

theraband rocker and wobble board

1. CLX Quick Kicks

  

  • Place your right foot through the end loop of a CLX resistance band
  • Place your left foot through the subsequent loop
  • Hold the band in your hand providing resistance
  • Quickly kick your right leg out to the side, keeping your knee straight
  • Return to your starting position, then kick out again without putting your foot down
  • Repeat on the other side

2. Single Leg Stance on Unstable Surface

  

  • Stand on one leg on top of a THERABAND Stability Disc, with a chair nearby for support if needed
  • Attempt to balance for at least 30 seconds
  • Repeat with the other leg
  • Progress to more difficult balance challenges following the list below

3. Monster Walk with CLX

  

  • Place one of the center loops of the CLX band around each of your ankles and hold one end in each hand
  • Stand with a slight bend in the knees and hips
  • Take three steps to the left, keeping your back straight
  • Take three steps to the right, keeping your back straight
  • Repeat

4. CLX Hip Abduction with Foot Loop

  

  • Place your right foot through the end loop of a CLX resistance band
  • Place your left foot through the subsequent loop
  • Hold the band in your hand, providing resistance
  • Slowly kick your right leg out to straighten the knee
  • Return to starting position, then kick out again without putting your foot down
  • Repeat on the other side

5. CLX Eversion and Dorsiflexion Combined

  

  • Sit in a chair
  • Place feet through the middle loops of a CLX resistance band
  • Flex one foot upwards toward your body and then out to the side (away from the midline)
  • Hold briefly and return to starting position, then repeat
  • Repeat with the other foot

Balance Progression

It’s easier to maintain your balance on firm surfaces than on unstable ones and with your eyes open, not closed. Another way to challenge your single leg balance is by following the progression on this list. Once you have mastered the first exercise, move on to the next step on the list. Stand on one leg for thirty seconds on the surface listed, with your eyes either open or closed.6

  1. Firm surface (floor) - eyes open
  2. Firm surface (floor) - eyes closed
  3. Foam surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Green) - eyes open
  4. Foam surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Blue) - eyes open
  5. Air-filled textured surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Black - side 1) - eyes open
  6. Air-filled smooth surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Black - side 2) - eyes open
  7. Wobble board surface (THERABAND Wobble Board) - eyes open
  8. Foam surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Green) - eyes closed
  9. Foam surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Blue) - eyes closed
  10. Air-filled textured surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Black - side 1) - eyes closed
  11. Air-filled smooth surface (THERABAND Stability Trainer Black - side 2) - eyes closed
  12. Wobble board surface (THERABAND Wobble Board) - eyes closed

4 Additional Ankle Exercises from the [P]REHAB Guys

For these exercises you’ll need:

1. Stability Disc & Rebounder Balance Exercise

  • Stand with both feet on a stability disc
  • Progress to balancing on the disc one foot at a time
  • Progress to balancing both feet on the stability disc and throwing a medicine ball on a rebounder (your gym or high school might have one)
  • Progress to balancing on the disc one foot at a time and throwing a medicine ball on a rebounder

2. Evertor/Peroneal Strengthening Exercise 1

  • Attach resistance band to a secure point
  • Walk away holding the band until you feel good resistance
  • Balance on the foot closest to the attachment point
  • To increase the challenge, go up onto the ball of your foot
  • Turn around and repeat, standing on the other leg

3. Evertor/Peroneal Strengthening Exercise 2

  • Stand on a wobble board with both feet and shift your weight so the board moves in a circle—use a chair for support if needed
  • Progress to balancing on one leg and moving back and forth and forward and backward on the board

4. Bosu Balance Exercises

 

  • Perform a forward lunge onto the blue center of the Bosu Ball, then repeat with the other leg
  • Progress by beginning to step ever so slightly to the side of the center when you lunge (not too far, you don’t want another ankle sprain), then repeat with the other leg
  • Progress by standing to the side of the Bosu Ball and stepping out onto the blue center with one foot, repeat from the other side with the other leg
  • Progress to standing facing the ball and jumping onto the ball on one foot, repeat with the opposite leg, then slowly increase your jump distance and velocity

Should Athletes Wear an Ankle Brace After an Ankle Sprain?

Several studies have confirmed that ankle braces can prevent recurrent ankle sprains.8

Prolonged immobilization can cause muscle weakness. But if you’re an athlete only wearing braces during your sport, there is no evidence ankle muscles get weaker during the season.

If a patient answers yes to at least two of the questions below, you should consider suggesting they use an ankle brace for now. Through weight training and agility training, the muscles surrounding the ankle continually get stronger without having to brace.

  1. Do you have a history of ankle sprains?
  2. Do you have residual ankle instability?
  3. Do you participate in a high-risk sport or position?

Choose a rigid or semi-rigid brace for the most support, or a lace-up or sleeve for more mobility.

Explore Ankle Brace Options

Active Ankle T2

active ankle t2

Active Ankle AS1 Pro

active ankle as1 pro

Active Ankle Model 329 Heel-Lock Ankle Support

active ankle model 329 heel lock and ankle support

References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). Sprained Ankle. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://mayocl.in/3aaOhZN
  2. Hayman, J., Prasad, S., & Stulberg, D. (2010). Help patients prevent repeat ankle injury. The Journal of Family Practice, 59(1), 32–34. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/394OZIy
  3. Moore, R. (2016). One Simple Exercise Reduces Ankle Sprains in Football Players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3oasiHh
  4. Moore, R. (2016). Build an Ankle Injury Prevention Program for Off-Season Soccer Players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sLQgMl
  5. Page, P. (2012). Simple balance training program reduces ankle injuries in basketball players. Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sLZ58Z
  6. Moore, R. (2018). Are You Prescribing the Wrong Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation Exercises? Performance Health Academy. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/39Vne4n
  7. Maghsoodi, A. R. (n.d.). The Best Ankle Sprain Prevention Exercises. P[REHAB]. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Y4QaBn
  8. Page, P. (2018). To Brace or Not to Brace: That is the Question! Cramer Sports Medicine. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3iAdJvs
  9. (2015, November 27). "Health at a Glance." Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624-x/2011001/article/11506-eng.htm#a4

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.