5 Ways to Strengthen Your Ankles to Prevent Sprains

Do you worry about the risk of spraining an ankle while you're out for a run, walk, or hike? Read on to learn what you should do to protect and strengthen your ankles so you can decrease your chances of suffering a sprain.

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Your ankles contain a delicate combination of bones, ligaments, and tendons, allowing your ankles to move through a range of positions with ease and speed. That also means your ankles can be a point of vulnerability. If you stumble or come down wrong when you're walking, jogging, or hiking, you may end up having to deal with a painful sprain. 

If you do end up needing care for a strain or sprain, our expert team at Optima Foot and Ankle in Redmond and Bend, Oregon, is ready to help. However, prevention is always the best medicine. So we’re sharing five tips that can help you prevent strains and sprains and improve the integrity of your ankle joints.

1. Flex and stretch

To support your ankles, pay attention to the whole length of your legs, including your knees and leg muscles. You can exercise your ankles and the rest of your legs by alternately flexing and stretching. Once a day, lie on your back, reaching your legs upwards, and then flex your muscles and stretch repeatedly. Complete 10 sets of stretches, holding each time for at least three seconds. When your leg muscles and joints function together, you reduce your risk of suffering sprains.

2. Work your ankle’s full range of motion

When you exercise your ankles, move them around so that you utilize your joints’ full range of motion. One good way to do this is by using your feet to write the alphabet, all the way from A to Z. Sit on the ground and bend your legs in front of you, crossing one over the other. Then, use one foot to write each letter of the alphabet or just move your ankle in circles, going both clockwise and counter-clockwise. Be sure to switch and exercise both ankles.

3. Improve your control and balance

You can also help reduce your risk of suffering sprains by improving your muscle control and balance through calf and shin raises. For calf raises, stand up with your feet spread apart about as far as your hips, then slowly shift your weight onto your toes and lift your heels off the ground. 

For shin raises, slowly lift up your toes, until you're standing on your heels. As you perform these exercises, make sure you don't let your ankles roll outward, as that may increase your risk of injury and decrease the effectiveness of your strengthening exercises.

4. Always prepare before exercising

Exercise or other vigorous activity can strain your muscles and joints, so it's important to get limber before you start. Stretch, flex, rotate your ankles around, and do some raises before you go out for a walk or run or before you engage in athletic or other strenuous activities.

5. Try taping your ankles

If you're especially concerned about ankle sprains or strains, we can recommend a taping pattern or brace to support your ankle joints when you're active. Use high quality, 1-inch athletic tape to wrap around your ankles in a pattern that evenly distributes pressure around the joints.

If you're concerned about your ankle wellness or need support in recovering from a sprain, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Optima Foot and Ankle today.

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