3 Tips to Prevent Ankle Sprains

Since I was away this weekend, I asked David Lasnier to put together another post for us. He has three great tips for you on how to prevent ankle sprains while performing movements that involve cuts or sharp direction changes. This is really one of those areas where a lot of people get hurt WHILE training, which is generally unacceptable.  The first point in particular is a simple coaching cue that we use A LOT at Endeavor that athletes understand and can almost instantly reduce their risk of ankle sprains.

3 Tips to Prevent Ankle Sprains by David Lasnier

Ankle sprains are unfortunately a very frequent injury in a number of sports.  There might be a variety of reasons why they happen.  I am not here to tell you I can prevent every ankle sprain from happening or that I can explain the origin of each and every one of these injuries.  However I can give you 3 tips that you can start applying today to lower the risk of that injury happening to you.

1) Keep your hips inside of your outside foot. When making a cut on the field or on the court, you are generally loading your outside leg before pushing off that same leg in a different direction.  Doing so, you want to make sure that your bodyweight doesn’t travel outside your support leg.  That means you want to stay low and you want your outside hip to stay inside of your outside ankle.  The picture below shows how you want to keep your base of support (your hips) inside your ankle.

Hockey Training-Agility Cut Good

When your hips do travel over your ankle, it shifts your weight to the outside of your foot and increases the chance of your ankle going into inversion (rolling your ankle).  The majority of ankle sprains happen with inversion at the ankle.

Hockey Training-Agility Cut Bad Hockey Training-Agility Cut Bad Ankle

2) Strengthen your gluteus medius. Your gluteus medius is one of the most important hip abductor muscles and in most people it is fairly weak.  You may think: what the hell does my gluteus medius have to do with changes of direction in sports?  When you plant your foot in the ground to make a cut, the momentum continues to make your body travel in the same direction you were going.  So, at some point you need to decelerate your bodyweight first, in order to transition that speed and momentum in a different direction.  The gluteus medius, along with the other abductors at the hips, are going to be responsible for decelerating your body and prevent your hips and upper body from travelling past your ankles.  If your gluteus medius is not strong enough to prevent that deceleration, your hips have more of a chance of going past your ankle and therefore, your ankle going into inversion.  One of the best exercises to strengthen your gluteus medius is the lateral mini-band walk, which we use quite a lot at Endeavor.

Hockey Training-Lateral MiniBand Walk

3) Get rid of those Nike Shox (or any other high heel sneakers you’re wearing). With these kinds of sneakers, your heels are elevated over an inch off the ground.  What happens when you plant your foot in the ground for a cut and the momentum of your body continues to travel in the same direction when your heel is elevated more than an inch in a sneaker?  The momentum will make your foot move in your sneaker and off that high sole, which is going to take your ankle into inversion and increase the risk of sprain.  Your best bets include: Nike Frees, Vibram 5 fingers or any cross-trainer shoes with a thin sole.

Hopefully if you’re not already applying these tips, you will start today.  These 3 simple tips will greatly decrease your risk of ankle sprain.

David Lasnier

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