dr. thomas mcdonald specializes in foot and ankle sports injuries

Preseason Ankle Care For Athletes

Sprained and fractured ankles are one of the most common injuries that fell young athletes on a regular basis. It’s estimated that 300,000 high school athletes suffer ankle sprains each year, and the numbers have increased in recent years, particularly in non-contact sports. Not all ankle sprains will be completely preventable, but there are plenty of things athletes can do to reduce their likelihood of suffering a sprained or fractured ankle. In today’s blog, we focus on some of the actions athletes can take prior to the start of their season to reduce their likelihood of an in-season sprain.

Preseason Ankle Strengthening And Conditioning

If you want to give your ankles the best chance of making it through another season unscathed, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Gradually Prepare Your Ankles For The Upcoming Season – In the weeks leading up to the start of your sports season, start gradually taking on bigger physical challenges and targeting your feet and ankles with exercise. You want your ankle ligaments to be strong and capable of handling all the stress you’ll be putting on them when the season begins. This process is easier if you gradually increase the amount of stress you put on them during the preseason. Do some light jogging and ankle exercises as the season approaches and then increase the physical challenge you put on your feet so that they aren’t overloaded when the season begins.
  2. Improve Flexibility – Strong ankles are important, but you also want to have flexibility and mobility in your ankle joint. This can help the joint handle different stress patterns and not roll when you step on an uneven surface. In the days leading up to the start of the season, take five minutes to do some ankle mobility exercises a couple of times a day. This will ensure your ankles remain flexible and able to handle varying stress patterns.
  3. Plyometric Movements – You’ll also want to slowly add some plyometric exercises to your preseason routine. Plyometrics are a type of exercise that involves short periods of high amounts of force on your body, like what you might experience when running, jumping or quickly changing direction. Odds are your sport involves one or all of these movements, so helping your ankles prepare for these stressful actions can ensure they aren’t overloaded with stress during these activities.
  4. Treat Small Issues – If you rolled your ankle the day before or are dealing with some swelling in your ankle, don’t just try to push through the discomfort and move on with your exercise routine. If you don’t properly address new or lingering ankle problems, they can snowball into a much bigger issue. It’s also important that you treat them in the right way. Give your body some rest and then ease back into activity while pursuing some physical therapy exercises. Don’t just tape your ankle or throw it in a brace and assume that will compensate for the underlying ligament damage. If you need help overcoming a preseason ankle injury, connect with Dr. McDonald.

Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to ease into preseason activities so that you are ready for the stress of tryouts, practices and games, but also remember that you’re aiming for a healthy balance between activity and rest. Too much preseason activity or ramping up your activity level too quickly can lead to fatigue, and tired athletes are more likely to become injured. Gradually take on bigger physical challenges as the season approaches but also recognize that your body needs rest in order to recover from the rigors of athletic competition. Strengthening your ankles without exposing them to too much preseason stress isn’t easy, but it’s the best way to prevent ankle injuries during the season.

For more information on the best ways to prevent ankle injuries in the lead up to your season, or for help overcoming a new or existing ankle injury, give Dr. McDonald and his team a call today at (86) 244-8889.

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