Ankle Care Tips for the Fall Sports Season

One of the best parts of this time of year for many students is the return of fall sports. Whether it’s playing football under the Friday night lights, racing on the cross-country course, or taking the field for a soccer match, there’s no shortage of opportunities for competition, self-improvement, and team bonding.

Student-athletes know as well as anyone how important staying healthy is for making the most of their participation in fall sports. In order to stay healthy and on the field this fall and beyond, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to keep your ankles strong.

Ankle sprains

Sprains are among the most common injury that sidelines student-athletes. A 2020 study found that ankle sprains account for up to 40 percent of all sports-related injuries and is the most frequent lower-limb injury.

An ankle sprain occurs when you land awkwardly or take contact to the ankle, causing a roll or twist that leads to a tear or stretch of the ankle-supporting ligaments (beyond its normal range of motion). Pain, tenderness, bruising, and a limited range of motion are the top symptoms associated with an ankle sprain.

When you fear a sprain has occurred, it’s important to stop playing to prevent a more serious injury. Self-care options that are recommended include rest, icing of the affected area, elevation of the affected area, or use of a compression wrap to reduce swelling. If treated early, athletes can often have a swift recovery without seeing a doctor.

Playing through the initial symptoms of a sprain will increase the chances it becomes a more serious injury that will require medical attention and a longer recovery period.

Staying on the field

We know that ankle injuries are prevalent among all athletes. So, what can we do to prevent them?

  • Proper warm-up: Before participating in physical activity, whether it’s practice or a game, a thorough warm-up routine is critical. Spend at least 15 minutes doing light movement that gradually raises the heart rate. This could involve a progression of light jogging to faster running and plyometric exercises that prepare the entire body for more intense physical activity
  • Appropriate footwear: Don’t overlook the importance of wearing the right pair of shoes. Make sure your shoes are well fitting, designed for the sport you’re playing, and replace them when they start to wear down
  • Build strength and flexibility: This is a long-term commitment that will pay dividends. By regularly incorporating strength exercises that target the lower extremities, you’ll be a more resilient athlete and can better handle the wear and tear that comes with competition. Calf raises, resistance work with a band, and balance exercises are some simple ways to strengthen the feet and ankles.

Injuries happen to the best of us. Even athletes who take all the right precautions aren’t totally immune from being sidelined. If you’re dealing with an issue right now, our team is here to get you back in the game. Reach out today or schedule an appointment with us!