In the world of sport, ankles are the most commonly injured area of the body, so why do we neglect them so often?
In soccer, 87% of all injuries involve the lower limbs, many of them being categorised as ankle injuries.
In the AFL alone, it’s estimated that over 100,000 of the currently registered participants in the sport have come across some form of ankle injury. There are the usual causes; uneven playing surface, poor weather conditions and just being unlucky in a tackle. Although these are expected to happen, they can be prevented or have a shorter recovery period if that player has strong muscles and stable ligaments to support their ankle joint.
According to Sports Medicine Australia’s AFL fact sheet, these injuries are “more likely to occur within the first four weeks of the playing season”. That is why it is essential to begin strengthening and stabilizing your ankles at the beginning of your pre-season training, as well as continuing your routine throughout the playing season.
There are two main areas to focus on when rebuilding ankle stability: balance and strength. These exercises only take a small amount of time during your day (or week, depending on the seriousness of your injury).
It is important that you don’t overload the ligaments too much so it is best to follow the following structure:
– 2x balance exercise (3-4 sessions per week)
– 2x strengthening exercises (3 sessions a week)
1. Single leg stand (on folded towel)
Stand on folded up towel with one leg for 30 seconds. Sole of the foot must be arched with achilles tendon straight (lined up with line between calve muscle heads). Gradually build up to 1 minute of standing.
2. Single leg stand and catch (on flat ground)
Standing on one leg, catch and throw a ball with a partner. Make certain to throw the ball right, left, high, low. Perform three sets of 30.
3. Single leg mini squat (on folded towel)
On one leg do a half squat with the opposite leg out front for 10 reps, out to the side for 10 reps and behind for 10 reps. Repeat three times.
4. Double leg stand (on balance board)
Same as the ‘Single leg Stand’ but with both feet and beginning with 1 minute stands, increasing up to 5 minutes on a balance board.
1. Calf Raises (light)
Calf raises should be done both seated and standing. Perform 3 sets of 20.
Progression 1: begin on flat ground, then progress onto a step.
Progression 2: feet turned out on flat ground, then onto a step.
2. Scissor Hops (moderate)
Begin in a lunge position. Jump and switch feet in mid-air landing with the opposite foot forward (landing on toes then heel, not on flat feet). Perform exercise 2 sets, 10-15 times. 1 min rest between sets.
3. Standing Squat Jumps (moderate)
Begin in a squatted position. Jump from that position and land softly, focusing on the down phase (landing on toes then heel, not on flat feet). Perform 2 sets, 20-25 times. 1min rest between sets.
4. Bounding (moderate-strong)
Up on your toes, take large bounding steps (front knee comes up towards chest) at about 50% of your maximum running speed. One repetition should be approximately 15m. Perform 3 sets, 10-15 times with 6 second rest between each rep, and 1min rest between each set.
I hope this blog helps you on your road to recovery. If you have any questions or require further advice on these exercises, come in and book in for an appointment and we can combine this program with my services including massage, dry needling, kinesiotaping and much more.
– Amanda Kovacev | Myotherapist