With July arriving, many of us will be in the middle of our sporting season or beginning our training programs to prepare for summer. Unfortunately a number of people will begin to experience a range of lower limb injuries and one of the most common injuries we see from these sports is a sprained ankle.
Prevention is always the best answer and with a few simple proprioceptive exercises, you can significantly decrease your chances of a lateral ankle sprain.
Proprioception is the sense of the orientation of one’s limbs in space and your body’s ability to do this decreases every time you cause damage to a joint.
Repeated ankle sprains severely decrease your proprioception, as well as causing ligament scarring and weakness in surrounding muscles and it can become so problematic that some people can sprain their ankle simply by walking down the street!
Improving your proprioception can be as simple as standing on one foot for a period of time, standing on an unstable surface (a pillow for example) and then progressing to landing from a jump onto a pillow and catching a ball.
Adding these types of exercises into your daily exercise regime can improve your proprioceptive feedback from your ankles and feet and keep you on the field or court longer this coming season.
Standing on 1 foot for 60 seconds. If you become unstable, reset yourself with your other foot and continue from where you left off. As you improve you can close your eyes or throw a ball against a wall.
Another progression is to complete lunges with your front foot on a dura disc or a pillow to increase the variability of ankle, knee and hip movement.
Jumping off two feet and landing on one is a good way to test your dynamic balance. Start with 10 jump and lands on each side (20 total) and make your landings soft.
To increase the difficulty, you can jump of a park bench, a box or steps to increase the height and you could get a friend to throw a ball so you have to catch and land to make it more functional.
There are a million variables to these exercises and the only limitations are your imagination!
Good luck and stay balanced