Ankle sprain's - they suck and happen far too often!
Here at Avalon Massage Therapy we love the summer time! We train with the gym door open and spend as much time in the sun as possible. As you may have noticed we train barefoot and encourage most clients to spend time barefoot as well. Ever wonder why? Barefoot training is excellent for activating proprioceptive muscles that strengthens our balance and insures well-balanced functional muscular growth. And why is this important? It's one of the few ways we can prevent injuries and since we're talking about our ankles, this definitely includes our ankles!
Quickly let's review our ankle. It's a hing joint that primarily moves up and down (plantarflexion and dorsiflexion), but when the two joints of the ankle, the talocalcaneal and talocalcaneonavicular, articulate together the ankle can rotate inward and outward (inversion and eversion). The ankle is meant to be a mobile joint, which enables us to move in many directions along multiple planes (forward, backward, laterally, and obliquely).
There are many ligaments that cross the ankle attaching bone-to-bone. The most common mechanism of ankle injury, in 70-85% of sprains accord to the US military, is inversion sprains to the anterior talofibular ligament, basically rolling the ankle inward. Ankle sprains usually happen on uneven ground and when landing badly. For instance when landing on another teammates foot in volleyball or stepping in a whole on the golf course.
As you know we are all about injury prevention so here are a few simple tricks to protect your ankles:
- Wear proper foot wear for your activity. For instance flip flops are not stable and don't grip wet surfaces, therefore they're a poor choice of foot wear while hiking the Gatineau hills. However a good hiking boot with heel support and grip on the sole are a great choice.
- Warm up your joints prior to activity. We don't mean static stretches, nor do we mean walking, but moving your joints. Take them through their full range of motion, feeling that your muscles are limber and gliding smoothly. Try these ankle circles with assistance before your next soccer game and notice how you feel during and after your game.
- Strengthen your joint. This is particularly important for people that have previously sprained or injured their ankle. There is no way to avoid using our ankles unless using a wheelchair. Hence if you've suffered ankle injuries in the past be sure to strengthen your Fibularis Longus and Brevis. A supper simple exercise is looping a band around your feet and against the bands resistance rotate your foot out.
- Wake up your proprioceptive muscles. When possible go barefoot to get the muscles on the bottom of your foot working. They help with balance. Also incorporate single leg exercises. Pay attention that your knee isn't collapsing and do some lunges, squats, dead lifts, skaters, etc. to further strengthen your balance. This way if you step on uneven ground or land funny you have better agility to prevent further damage.
We hope these 4 tips help you enjoy an injury free summer!