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Rolled Your Ankle? 5 Exercises to Prepare it for Sports

May 21 | 2024
Posted by Sharon Tierney

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If you have had a sprained/rolled ankle recently, you may have felt like it isn’t quite the same anymore. Usually, after an injury, there is a loss in strength and coordination of the ankle. While this may not affect you as much in your day-to-day life just walking around, you can notice a difference when you play your sport. The following are a list of 5 potential exercises that may help your ankle get back in tip-top shape!

  1. Ankle Alphabets

After an injury, the ankle loses some fibers called proprioceptors. These proprioceptors give us our sense of proprioception, which is our ability to determine where our ankle is in space. For example, whether it is facing up, down, in, out, and to what degree. As you may imagine, this proprioceptive ability is essential to sports in order for us to jump and land safely, change directions quickly, and run.

Ankle alphabets are where you use your foot to draw the alphabet from A-Z. Imagine your big toe is the tip of a pencil, and you’re writing the letters in a space in front of you. To start, you may keep the eyes open so you can see what you’re doing. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, close your eyes and try to use just the sensation from your ankle to complete this exercise. It’s more challenging than it seems!

2. Balance on an unstable surface/Bosu Ball

Athlete balancing on bosu ball

Athlete balancing on a bosu ball during their ankle rehabilitation

When we’re playing sports or running, the ground is not always even footing. Subconsciously, your ankle is always making slight corrections for this. Unfortunately, after an injury your ankle may not be able to perform this as well. Ligaments are designed to prevent excessive movements of the ankle but with multiple injuries, they can become lax.  Thus, training on an unstable surface reteaches the ankle how to correct for the environment. Ultimately, this will reduce your risk of reinjury. Additionally, try adding in other challenges like catching and throwing a ball to really give yourself a workout.

3. Star Excursion Balance Test

The Star Excursion Balance Test is a rehab tool for ankle dynamic balance

The athlete stands in the middle on the indicated limb, and must slide the other leg out while maintaining balance

The Star Excursion Balance Test is one of the best exercises to use with athletes and physically active individuals. It is a challenging test that can also be used as a training tool afterwards. This exercise involves the balance, postural control, and proprioceptive systems.  First, the athlete begins by standing on one leg and trying to reach out with the other leg as far as possible in the pattern (see the image). Fortunately, this exercise requires minimal to no equipment which makes it a great choice to do at home.

4. Hopping and multidirectional movements

Once you return to your sport, your ankle will need to be able to withstand forceful movements in multiple directions. Some great examples of exercises might include skater lunges, fast lunges in multiple directions, step hops, running with pivoting, or quick starts and stops etc. Ultimately, there are many options to choose from.

5. Sport specific movements!

The best way to train for your sport is through practice of that sport! For example, if you have a sport on skates, you will need to practice being on those skates again in a controlled environment. Maybe your sport requires a lot of switching directions, or kicking a ball. Make sure you practice these things first! Don’t dive back into a competitive match right away but take the time to break up your sport into some smaller skills you can practice individually.

Need help?

If you are trying to recover from an ankle injury, it is always best to get assessed by a health care professional. Here at PhysioNow we have many knowledgeable Physiotherapists that can get you started on a rehabilitation program. Book with PhysioNow today for your first assessment and treatment.

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