Ankle rolls can occur during athletics and daily activities such as walking, running or going up or downstairs. It usually takes 4 to 8 weeks to recover from ankle sprains.
To prevent ankles from rolling you can practice balancing, strengthen muscles, and stretch your muscles. This article will explain five ways to prevent ankle rolls and different exercises for strengthening and stretching your ankle.
The more an ankle rolls and you suffer ankle sprains, the easier it is for you to roll it again. However, medical attention, physical therapy, and exercises may help you in the healing process.
Why Ankles Sometimes Roll
Sometimes it’s unavoidable. We place too much strain on our ankles and they roll one way or another. Muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and athletic tape can help us avoid a sprain, although we should always be aware that it might happen depending on the circumstances.
The rich ligamentous structure of the ankle prevents inward as well as outward movement of the ankle. The ligament on the outer surface of the foot is usually prone to sprain, causing the ankle to roll inward.
There are several forms of sprains; the most common is an “inversion.” In this case, your foot rolls toward the inside, and the pain is in the outer layer of the ankle. The other type of sprain is an eversion, in which your foot rolls toward the outside, and the pain is in the inner layer of the ankle.
The latter one is less common, and also called the high ankle sprain. It is usually a rotational injury in which ligaments are damaged. A high ankle sprain happens in extreme situations, such as a mishap, accident, or a highly physical game, i.e., football.
If the ligaments lose flexibility and strength, it’s easier for damage to happen to them. Although the torn ligament heals, the scar tissue that remains is still not strong like the original. The scar tissue is more prone to rip or sprain later on.
The ligaments are also responsible for maintaining balance and coordination. A damaged ligament decreases your capacity to handle walking on rough surfaces, making you vulnerable to injury or an ankle roll.
It is common to roll the ankle, particularly if you suffered an ankle injury previously. Let’s suppose your foot rolls after walking on a rough surface; that means you’ll most likely suffer from ankle instability afterward.
If a serious injury or break may be caused by a weak and damaged ankle. Your foot needs support from your ligaments. The lateral ligaments prevent your foot from rolling with every footstep you take.
The ligaments also get weaker with time or because of an intense injury. A damaged ankle is referred to as a “loose” ligament because it fails to provide stability to the ankle.
5 Ways to Prevent Ankles from Rolls
There are several ways to prevent ankles from rolling, some of them are mentioned below.
One way to prevent your ankles from rolling is to improve your balance. Balance plays a significant role in the prevention of ankle sprains. First, you need to understand how balance works.
Your body has special tiny sensors in them called proprioceptors. These sensors continuously send messages to your brain about your body’s position. Once a message is received by your brain, it sends back a reply to your muscles. These replies tell your muscles how to keep you balanced. It is a slick and efficient system.
There are multiple ways to improve this balance that will help you to prevent injuries. A simple way is to practice balancing on a single foot while brushing your teeth or doing light upper body exercises.
Single foot balancing will improve your equilibrium. In this way, your foot’s and ankle’s nerves will try to adjust and train the surrounding muscles of the legs, hips, and ankles to control and activate your movements. Physical therapy may also be an effective way to improve your balance.
- Strengthen Your Core Muscles
As your foot hits the ground while walking and running, it has much to do with your legs, core, and hips. Strong leg and ankle muscles along with strength in core muscles and hamstrings provide you with better alignment as you walk and run.
Lack of strength in your core will lead your body to have instability due to an absence of hip control. The end result may be a rolled ankle or a fall. To strengthen your core, you can focus on the core exercises like the plank or just walking or running.
3. Improve Flexibility
Sometimes after ankle sprains, the flexibility in the ankles changes. It can cause a loss of dorsiflexion (raising foot toward your shin) and front ankle swelling, which affects how you walk.
When your doctor recommends exercise again, you can start stretching your ankle joint and begin calf exercises. This helps to restore normal dorsiflexion and prevents future ankle sprains.
Regularly doing simple stretching for 30-60 seconds after a warm-up helps you relieve discomfort and promote the lower leg’s mobility. Stretching should be performed comfortably and carefully.
- Choose Your Footwear Carefully
If I were going on a long-distance hike, I would most likely want boots that fit over my ankles. This would increase my ankle stability when climbing over rocky areas.
It’s best to choose footwear based on the activity you are going to do. Different shoes are designed for different purposes. Therefore, buy shoes that will increase balance and ankle stability.
If you plan for hiking, purchase hiking shoes with adequate support for the terrain. If you want to play basketball, choose the shoes that quality shoes with ankle support. For running, buy running shoes, and for walking, get yourself some good walking shoes.
- Progress Toward Full Activity
I am not suggesting hiking several days at once without any preparation. Being prepared before trying a new sport or activity, will help get your muscles strengthened and your body better able to balance for any upcoming season of activity. Prepare your body for it in advance.
This doesn’t mean full-body training, but a regular exercise that mimics the desired activity. Practicing the movement you will be doing can help you prevent an ankle roll since your muscles will start to gain muscle memory after an activity is practiced enough.
Give yourself enough time to be ready for whatever activity you plan to do.
Exercises to Strengthen Your Ankle
Here are a few simple motions and exercises that you can perform up to 10 times daily to strengthen your ankle. These exercises only need a resistance band.
- Elastic Band Push
The elastic band push is using resistance against an elastic band. For this, you need to sit on the floor. Keep your heel off the floor by propping up your ankle with a swimming noodle or a rolled-up towel.
Place the band around your upper foot. Hold the two ends of the band. Gradually push the ball of your foot forward like you are pointing your toes. Then slowly bring it back.
Repeat the process 10 times. If you feel any pain or your ankle feels wobbly, then you may want to avoid the band or get some advice from a doctor.
- Elastic Band Pull
Tie your elastic band around a heavy object like a table leg or a desk. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out. Hook your upper foot and toes into the band. Then, slowly pull your foot back towards you. Return it to a relaxed vertical position. Repeat the process 10 times.
- Ankle Out
You can perform this strengthening exercise while sitting down and propping your ankle with a noodle or a rolled towel. Tie your resistance band around a heavy object. Hook the inside part of your foot into the end of the band while sitting or standing. Slowly move your foot outwards and back. Repeat the process 10 times.
- Ankle In
For this exercise, you also need to tie the band around a heavy object. Hook the inner part of your foot into the band. Gradually move your foot inwards, resisting the band, and bring your foot back to a relaxed position. Repeat the process 10 times.
Ways to Stretch Your Ankle
Stretching is extremely effective to increase the flexibility of your muscles. The following are some stretching exercises that will help you increase the range of motion of your calf muscles, foot, and ankle.
- Towel Stretch
Sit on the floor. Stretch your legs out in front of you. Wrap a towel around the ball of your foot. Pull back the towel towards yourself, so your toes move towards you. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not overdo it. You only need to feel a moderate stretch on your calf muscles.
- Standing Calf Stretch
Stand against a wall. Place your hands on the wall for support. Pace your one foot about one step back and the other foot in front. Keep the heel flat on the floor. Slowly bend your front leg’s knee until you feel a mild stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat the process 3 times.
- One-Leg Balance
Place your hands on a wall, a chair back, or a countertop. Lift your one leg off the ground, so that all your weight rests on the other leg. Hold yourself in this position for 20 seconds.
As you get stronger, try to do this with one or two fingers for support. And when you become stronger, do this without holding anything. You’ll be balancing on one leg with one foot just off the ground and support nearby, just in case. Then switch legs.
- Heel Raise
Stand against a wall, chair back, or countertop. Hold your hands in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly rise up on your toes and come down. Do this 10 to 20 times. Remember to do it until you feel a moderate stretch and no pain.
- Dorsiflexion Stretch
Dorsiflexion stretching means bringing your toes closer to the shin. This exercise protects the tendons and muscles in your ankles.
Sit on the floor. Place your right leg straight. Bend your left leg so it touches the right leg. The sole of the left leg ought to rest against the inside of your right leg. Place an elastic band or a towel around the ball of the right foot; gently pull your foot back towards yourself.
You will feel a stretch in your calves, thigh, and Achilles tendon. Hold it for 20 seconds. Repeat the stretch about 4 times. Then switch legs. You should feel mild to moderate stretch and no pain.
The ankle plays a significant role in adapting to various ground conditions and helps your legs when walking great distances. Ankle rolls can happen to people of all age ranges, but most commonly with teenagers to those in their mid-30s.
So if you’re involved in activities that have caused or might cause ankle rolls, be aware that you can help yourself adapt to these situations through practicing balancing, muscle strengthening, and stretching.
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