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Are You Vulnerable to an Ankle Sprain?

Are You Vulnerable to an Ankle Sprain?

By: David Bidner

When I reflect on my teenage years, I always look back at the moments of playing sports whether it was playing on high school teams or after school with my best friends.  I can still feel the excitement of getting ready for basketball games.  I wasn’t the most athletic or most talented player on the court, but my hustle and effort allowed me to contribute to my team.  However, playing hard and going 100 mph has its price leading to multiple ankle sprains.  I remember the first time I experienced an ankle sprain.  It was an early Saturday morning practice. I can still smell the sweat and feel the coolness of the brisk winter mornings.  We were running a 3 on 2 fast break drill. As I jumped up to go after a rebound, I remember landing on a teammate’s foot. You can imagine the amount of force coming down on my right ankle. I could feel the sharp, agonizing pain immediately. I must have looked like a fish out of water flopping around the ground screaming in pain. If you have sprained your ankle, I have felt your pain.

Who is most vulnerable to an ankle sprain?  I’ll go over some risk factors that can lead to an ankle sprain. 

  • People with high arches in their feet are more susceptible to spraining their ankle because high arches create instability.
  • Having the proper footwear can reduce the chance of spraining your ankle. Who knew having too much sole was a bad thing? Having too much sole in your shoe can increase the risk factor of an ankle sprain as well as soles that are inflexible. Finding proper footwear can help to better stabilize the foot preventing sprained ankles or other injuries that can lead to an ankle sprain.
  • For any trail runners out there this may hurt to hear, but running on uneven ground increases that chance of injury.
  • Getting less than 6 hours of sleep can lead to fatigue which affects the neuromuscular function of the ankle. Fatigue decreases the firing of the peroneal muscles after plantarflexion fatigue.
  • For those who have already experienced an ankle sprain, I’m sorry to inform you that the recurrence rate of re-spraining your ankle goes up by 70%.
  • People with balance issues have a poor time with their proprioception which increases the chance of injury.
  • Females are more prone than males to sprain their ankles. Females and males have biomechanical differences of how men and women land on their feet while running or jumping. Women also have a factor of hormones during her menstrual cycle. Hormones may affect ligaments, connective tissue and neuromuscular control.
  • People with ligament laxity have an increased chance of an ankle sprain. Ligament laxity is due to instability of the lateral ankle. Most ankle sprains occur in the lateral ankle caused by excessive inversion of the ankle and internal rotation of the hind foot while the leg is externally rotated.
  • Ankle stiffness in the front region of the ankle can cause limitations in movement, causing overuse of the peroneal muscles.

Proper care of an ankle is the best way to decrease the risk factors of an ankle sprain! I hope this blog brings some awareness of prevention as well as informed those who are at risk for ankle sprains.