How to Prevent Ankle Injuries

Three Methods:Exercising SafelyPreventing Ankle InjuriesBuilding Strength And Balance In The Ankle

Ankles are a small but very important part of proper leg and foot function. Since we use our ankles for almost any walking, running, or standing motion it's no surprise that they can become injured. However, there are some techniques and tips that you can start using to help keep your ankles strong and injury-free.

Method 1
Exercising Safely

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    Wear the right shoes. Although it may seem like a small detail, your choice of shoes can have a huge impact on your ankles and feet when doing any kind of exercise. Buying and wearing the right type of shoe for your foot will go a long way in preventing injury to your ankles. Keep some of the following tips in mind when shopping for your next pair of shoes:[1]
    • If you have low arches you will need a shoe that provides front and arch support.
    • Softer platforms and more cushion can be a good fit if you have high arches or stiff feet.
    • Cross training shoes can work for multiple styles of sports.
    • It's best to buy and wear a shoe that is specifically designed for your favorite sport. For example, buying actual running shoes for running, basketball shoes for playing ball, etc.
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    Replace your shoes regularly. Over time your shoes will wear down, changing the way they support your foot. This changing support can affect how your foot falls when walking or running and increase the chances of you sustaining an ankle injury. Always replace your shoes to make sure they are supporting your foot properly.[2]
    • Generally, shoes should be replaced every six months.
    • If you run more often, replacing your shoes more frequently can be a good idea.
    • Check your shoes for obvious signs such as a crushed inner platform or any tears or rips.
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    Avoid uneven surfaces. If you are a fan of walking or running exercise, you will want to pay attention the surfaces you are traveling on. Unleveled or uneven surfaces can pose a the danger of injuring your ankle. If your foot falls on an uneven surface it can twist and sprain the ankle. Always make sure your planned routes have level and safe surfaces for you to run or walk on. [3]
    • Roots, gravel, rocks, and holes can all present hazards and increase the chances of injuring your ankle.
    • Be careful when running up or down hills, as this can increase your chances of injury.[4] Gradually add more hills to your running routes to protect yourself.
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    Avoid overtraining. Getting in regular exercise or physical activity can be a great idea for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, it is possible that you can get too much exercise. Overtraining will increase the chances of injury and make it more likely that you may hurt your ankle. Avoid training too much to keep your ankle safe.[5]
    • Try cross-training to avoid injury brought on by repetitive motion and exercise.
    • For example, if you are a runner you might try weight lifting, bike riding, or even walking to reduce repetitive strain and still improve your running capabilities.[6]
    • Take time off if you notice any pain or soreness in your ankle.

Method 2
Preventing Ankle Injuries

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    Always warm up. Whenever you plan on exercising or doing any heavy physical activity, you will want to properly warm up. Warming up can help prepare your body and ankles for more strenuous work, reducing the likelihood of injuring the area.[7]
    • Light stretching is a good way to warm up.
    • Slowly jogging can safely bring up your heart rate and engage your ankles before exercising.
    • Don't force any stretch. Keep your motions slow and stop if you feel discomfort.
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    Slowly work into new activities. If you plan on starting new exercises, activities, or increasing the intensity of things you're already doing, you will need to work into them slowly. Jumping into a new movement or intensity too hard, too quickly will greatly increase the chances of you sustaining an ankle injury.[8]
    • Gradually build up to new exercise programs over the course of a few weeks.
    • You can also use cross-training methods to build strength and keep you protected from injury.
    • For example, try running only one mile if you are new to running. If you felt comfortable running that much, add a bit more distance next time. Once you get used to that new distance, you can add more and continue building up your run length in this way.
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    Don't ignore pain. The simplest way to avoid injury to your ankle is to listen to what your body is saying. If you notice any pain at all during exercise or activity, stop immediately or change the motion. Pushing through any kind of joint pain will only further agitate the area and may result in a worse injury. Always listen to your body when exercising for signs of impending injury or pain. [9][10]
    • Don't train while injured. Allow the area to fully heal before continuing any exercise program.
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    Tape up your ankle. If you have an old ankle injury, you also have a greater chance of injuring it again. To cut down on recurrent injuries to your ankle you may want to apply a bandage or tape. The ankle bandage or tape will help reinforce the area and will help keep it from moving in a way that could result in another injury. Use this technique to properly tape your ankle:[11][12]
    • Apply one strip of tape around the lower shin to create an anchor.
    • Place another anchor strip around the middle of the foot.
    • Create a stirrup by placing one end of the tape at your first shin anchor, bringing it under the foot, and back up to the other side of your shin anchor.
    • Create a “figure 8” shape. Start a piece of tape at the top of your stirrup, either side will do. Bring the tape down, across the shin, under the foot, back up the leg and connect to it the opposite side of your stirrup.
    • Add another stirrup on the foot itself. Start on one side of the foot anchor tape, bring the tape under the back of the heel and end the tape on the opposite side of the foot you started from.
    • Repeat each strip once again. However, this time place the strips of tape with just a bit of overlap between them to cover more of the ankle and provide more support.

Method 3
Building Strength And Balance In The Ankle

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    Get in some ankle circles. Ankle circles are a simple motion that will stretch out the muscles around the ankle and get it ready for exercise. Use the following motions to do a proper ankle circle stretch:[13]
    • Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you.
    • Place one leg over the other.
    • Start drawing a circle in the air with your toes using the elevated foot.
    • Make circles going both clockwise and counter-clockwise.
    • Switch legs and do the same motion for the other ankle.
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    Try some calf raises. The calf raise is a simple move that can help you learn how to keep your balance while in motion. It can also help build strength in the lower leg which may help prevent injury. Use the following motions to get in a good calf stretch:[14]
    • Stand up straight with your feet at about shoulder width apart.
    • Shift your weight onto your toes.
    • Slowly lift your heels off the ground.
    • Maintain balance as you raise your heels up.
    • Lower your heels back down before repeating the movement.
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    Add in shin raises. Shin raises will help improve your sense of balance, much like a calf raise. This simple motion can also help you to build strength in your lower leg muscles. Use the following motions to perform a proper calf raise:
    • Stand straight up and place your feet about shoulder width apart.
    • Keep your weight in your heels.
    • Slowly lift your toes up into the air.
    • Focus on keeping your balance as you lift your toes up.
    • Lower your toes back down to the ground and repeat the motion.
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    Practice single leg balance. An easy exercise you can use to build strength and balance in your legs is to balance on only one leg. Shifting the balance to one leg places your entire body weight on that leg alone. This increase in weight will engage your muscles and sense of balance, improving both. Use the following motions to practice the single leg balancing exercise:
    • Stand straight up with both feet on the ground.
    • Pull one foot slightly off the ground and shift your entire weight onto the other leg.
    • Slightly squat down using your one leg only.
    • Hold the squat for around 20 to 30 seconds.
    • Stand back up straight and put your other foot back down.
    • Repeat the motion on the other leg.

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