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How to Prevent an Ankle Sprain

How to Prevent Another Ankle Sprain: 5 Proactive Steps

Nov 4, 2021

An ankle injury can keep you immobilized for a while, prevent you from actively training, and even make something as ordinary as walking to the bathroom agonizing. Not treating a sprained ankle properly can be reckless. It can lead to chronic ankle pain, ankle joint instability, or arthritis in your ankle joint. In other words, this is a serious matter.

Still, how does one prevent an ankle sprain?

After all, no one is injuring their ankle on purpose. It’s not like a person deliberately lands improperly after a jump or tries to step on the hole/rock/crack in front of them. It’s not even that people are investing an active effort to walk or land improperly. These things… well, just happen.

With that in mind, are there really some proactive steps that could keep you safe (or at least safer)?

Fortunately, there’s quite a bit you can do, and here are the top five suggestions.

1. Strengthening ankles and balance training

The simplest way to strengthen your ankles is to stand with your feet apart (ideally at the edge of the step) and raise your heels up so that you stand on your toes. Repeat this 10 times every day and in a couple of weeks, you’ll already see impressive results.

Other than this, you also want to improve your balance. The simplest way to do so is to strengthen your core. The strength of your hips and abdominal area is just as important when it comes to minimizing the odds of an ankle injury. For this particular reason, these are also regarded as ankle sprain prevention exercises.

One more thing you want to do is build up your general flexibility. Going for some yoga sessions and regularly visiting massage parlors are just two ideas that come to mind.

2. Preparation for the activity

If you’ve suffered from ankle injuries before or if you just want to be extra careful, you might want to consider taping and bracing your ankles. In fact, a well-adjusted ankle sprain prevention brace can minimize the risk of an ankle injury by quite a margin.

Other than this, you also want to warm up properly. Some of the most common methods are:

  • Achilles tendon stretching
  • Ankle inversion
  • Ankle eversion
  • Ankle plantar flexion and dorsi flexion

If you’re new to this, it would be ideal to either find someone to demonstrate how this is done or to look up a video with a demonstration on YouTube.

If you’ve previously struggled with angle injuries it is paramount that you ask for professional opinion. Are you ready to return to your previous training regimen or do you need to spend more time in physio? Treatment for ankle sprains is not a complex matter but it does take time, effort, and some additional care.
It is unwise to overcommit before you know the answer to this particular question.

3. Proper footwear

One of the most important things you need to do in order to protect your ankle is – get proper footwear for your activity. You see, the matter of ankle sprain prevention requires effort and research on your part. There’s no such thing as an ideal foot for your ankles. This will depend on the sport that you engage in.

While buying, there are several things you need to watch out for. For instance:

  • You should wear the same type of socks that are usually worn for that sport.
  • Go to the store late in the day, seeing as how this is when your feet are the largest.
  • Re-lace the shoes before making any conclusions on how supportive or comfortable they are.

Once you have the proper shoes, the question – “how to prevent an ankle sprain?”, finally has its answer, right? Well, a one-time purchase doesn’t really solve your problem for good. Even the most quality shoes get worn out over time. So, replace shoes when the tread wears out or the heel wears down

4. Mind your itinerary

Picking the route with a more even terrain is incredibly important for the health of your feet. It also adds up to your ankle sprain prevention efforts.

The thing is, just because you haven’t gotten injured this time doesn’t mean that the route that you’ve picked is safe or good. The next time, you might not see that crack in the pavement or rock. One bad step and the landing might be more painful than you’ve expected it to be.

It gets even worse than that. You see, running on uneven terrain or going for a jog uphill a bit more often might slowly injure both your foot and your ankle. The problem is that this comes so gradually that some people underestimate it, even see it as something harmless. The accumulation of damage, however, is a serious problem.

How to prevent ankle sprain in the long run (no pun intended)?

The best way to do so is to pick the terrain that won’t put too much stress on your ankles over the course of time. Pick an even ground and the right surface. Your best options are:

  • Synthetic track
  • Asphalt
  • Park trail
  • Grass
  • Treadmill

While this won’t protect you with 100% accuracy, it does minimize the risk of injury. 

5. Listen to your body

While an ankle injury can happen all of a sudden, chances are that you will feel some discomfort before the injury does occur. So:

Q: How to avoid ankle sprains?

A: Listen to your body!

Once the position of your foot starts feeling unnatural, this is a clear warning sign that something isn’t right. While it may sometimes feel like a bad thing, the truth is that pain is our best defense mechanism – it warns us when something we’re doing is dangerous.

It's by far the safest to just call it quits at this point.

Key takeaways
So, we’ve provided quite a few tips for those looking at how to prevent an ankle sprain. You need to strengthen your core and your ankles, as well as try to be as flexible as possible. You should also wear proper shoes, carefully choose your itinerary and always, always, warm up. If something feels off, it is often safer to call it quits and pick it up the next day.

If you have injured your ankle, consider making an appointment with an ankle specialist at The Orthopedic Institute of NJ.

This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.