April 5, 2023

How to Strengthen Ankles and Prevent Ankle Sprains

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, ankle sprains are the number one reason for missed participation in athletics. While the ankle is designed to be flexible and strong enough to support one’s body weight, a twist or misstep can lead to a painful sprain. Due to the frequent and rapid whole-body movements in high agility sports, ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries.

The ankle is a large joint made up of three bones – the tibia, fibula and talus – as well as several ligaments that help keep the bones in proper position and stabilize the joint. Ankle sprains affect the ligaments that assist in stabilizing the ankle joint, and most often affected are the ligaments on the outside of the ankle when a sprain occurs. An ankle sprain occurs when your ankle is forced to move out of its normal position, causing the ligaments to stretch or tear. Signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle can vary by severity, but may include pain when bearing weight on the affected foot, swelling, decreased range of motion, ankle instability, tenderness and bruising.

While injuries are unexpected, and sometimes unavoidable, below are a few tips to aid in strengthening the muscles around the ankle and preventing ankle sprains.

  • Strengthen the muscles around the ankle. These simple exercises can be done sitting in a chair:




  • Improve ankle dorsiflexion (foot moving towards you) by improving calf flexibility through stretching. Dorsiflexion is important because it allows the tibia (shin) to move forward freely, relative to the position of the foot.

  • Improve balance. When the ligaments are affected after an ankle sprain, an athlete’s sense of where they are in space or proprioception is affected. Exercises that focus both on double-leg and single-leg activities can help improve balance.

If you experience an ankle sprain, it’s important to seek medical attention. Conservative treatment, such as rest, ice, compression, elevation, over-the-counter medication and simple rehabilitation exercises, may be all you need. Without treatment, it’s very common for an individual to have a recurrence of an ankle sprain, and chronic ankle instability may occur. At Central Indiana Orthopedics, our team of orthopedic specialists can help you heal from an ankle sprain and get you back on your feet. For sudden injuries, visit our Walk-In Clinic, no appointment or referral needed. For more chronic issues, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists or Physical Therapy clinic. Learn more at ciocenter.com/services.