Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries in all of sports. Ankle sprains make up a huge number of emergency room visits in America every year, placing a huge burden on our health system. So, doing what we can to prevent ankle joint pain is going to make a difference for athletes and the general population going forward.
We will never prevent the contact ankle sprain, where someone lands on someone else’s foot and rolls their ankle. However, we can lessen their time out of competition, as well as prevent non-contact ankle sprains.
Below is a list of risk factors that predispose athletes to an ankle sprain. This is not an all inclusive list, but a rather very good start when trying to identify who is at risk.
- Hip Strength – Glute Medius strength is imperative to controlling the lower extremity. It may seem like a stretch here, but research shows us that within 48 hours of an ankle injury, the Glute Medius shuts down. If the Glute Med is weak and/or inactive, the knee is certain to go into valgus and internal rotation, and then move down the chain further to the ankle.
- Core Stability – The core is no doubt the foundation for all movement. Without a stable core, the extremities will struggle to maintain control.
- Neurological Patterning – Linking the upper and lower extremities along fascial lines and specific sling systems is paramount for controlling the entire body. Having tons of strength doesn’t do a lot of good if you can’t turn on the correct muscles in the right sequence.
- Balance/Proprioception – Teaching the body spacial awareness in any situation assists in controlling the extremities.
- Proper Cut/Pivot Techniques – Most athletes who sustain lower body injuries have never been educated on how to plant and cut appropriately. More often than not, we teach planting on the inside foot when changing direction.
- Biomechanics – Many people who tear their ACL have poor genetics which lead them to their injury. While we can’t change genetics, we can make adjustments to their training. We can also use things like foot orthotics to assist in certain situations.
- Ankle Mobility – Lack of ankle dorsiflexion will place abnormal stress on the ankle, as well as force the rest of the lower extremity to compensate for the ankle’s lack of motion.
- Deceleration Mechanics – The vast majority of non-contact injuries occur during the deceleration phase of movement. This is because they haven’t been taught how to heel strike and use their gluts and hamstrings to decelerate their body under control.
- Asymmetries – Research shows that asymmetries are one of the largest indicators of future injury. Any type of asymmetry will change mechanics and loading principles and exposing them to injury.
Also, our PROvention™ training system is designed to address the factors listed above. There are several key components that make the PROvention™ system extremely effective. Click on each component to learn more:
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