Tips & Techniques

Preventing Ankle Sprains

April Flood 
January 23, 2024

As one of the most common injuries in athletes, you or someone you know have probably experienced an ankle sprain and you likely have an idea of how painful these can be. You don’t have to be an athlete to experience an ankle sprain either, whether you are running or walking on uneven grass or sidewalks, or just stepping over toys left around the house. Did you know if you have sprained your ankle in the past, you are more likely to sprain your ankle again in the future? The good news is there are things you can do to decrease this risk by being proactive!

How does an ankle sprain happen?

Most often, ankle sprains happen when your ankle rolls inward, resulting in stretching and straining the ligaments of the outer ankle. You likely experience pain and swelling in the ankle that makes walking difficult. 

What can you do?

Here are a few steps you can take to prevent an ankle sprain and the limitations that result:

  1. Keep good mobility of your ankle
    1. A simple way to do this would be to put your foot on a stair- while keeping your foot flat and heel down, lean your knee over your toes 
    2. An easy dynamic way to warm-up your ankle before walking or doing activity is to pump your ankle up and down or in circles
  2. Work on the strength of the muscles around your ankle
    1. Heel raises- lift up and down on your toes
    2. Working on the strength of your hips and your core also help you keep better alignment of your feet and ankles
      1. Planks or resisted side stepping are some ideas
  3. Work on balance
    1. Start with putting one foot in front of the other and try to hold that for about 30 seconds. If this is easy, try standing on one leg at a time
    2. You can make this harder by:
      1. moving your arms, such as making figure 8’s with your hands 
      2. Try standing on a squishy surface, such as a pillow 
      3. Close your eyes


*If you recently experienced an ankle sprain or if you are experiencing pain in your ankle, you should consult a physical therapist first.

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