Patient Education: All About Ankles

Ankle sprains are among the most common sports injuries and are especially prevalent in sports such as football, volleyball, soccer or basketball that involve jumping or swift changes in direction. But what exactly is an ankle sprain and how can it be treated or prevented?

What is an ankle sprain?

The ankle joint consists of the bones of the leg and the foot: the shin bone (tibia), the thinner bone running next to the shin bone (fibula) and the talus bone that sits above the heel (calcaneous). Ligaments are the structures that connect bones to one another while tendons connect muscles to bones. Ankle sprains are caused when the ligaments of the lateral ankle, primarily the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and or the calcaneal fibular ligament (CFL) are stretched when the ankle rolls inward. Although ankle sprains can affect the inside of the ankle as well, this is less common.

What are the risk factors for ankle sprains?

Participation in sports that require jumping or running as in basketball, volleyball or soccer increases the risks for ankle sprain, especially if the sport is played on uneven surfaces. Another factor is a prior injury of the same area, especially if the condition has not been properly treated and regained its full strength or range of motion.

Prevention Strategies

Restoring full range of motion, strength and balance is key when recovering from an ankle sprain. Stretching and strengthening not only the ankle region but also the whole lower body will reduce risks for future injuries. Self-myofascial relief techniques such as foam rolling the calf muscle and wearing supportive footwear can also be helpful. Alternating weight-bearing activities that place less stress on your ankle such as swimming or cycling can also be helpful. Discuss these options with your health care professional to determine which would be the best treatment approach for you. Here some exercises that can be used to prevent ankle injuries:

#1 Balance Board Single Leg Exercise

# 2 Star Reach Pattern

#3 Calf Myofascial Release

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained here is for general information purposes only.

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Friederike Aprea

Author Friederike Aprea

Rike (Friederike) Aprea, MA, CPT, CES, BCS is the VP of Business Development and Marketing Strategy at WebExercises. She previously worked for Reebok, BMW, and the Adidas Group in the US, Asia and Europe. She is also a NASM certified Behavior Change Specialist.

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