There are a select few areas of the body that every athlete worries about on a daily basis. These are the body parts that are the classic injury locations—ones that generations upon generations of players have had to deal with. From the brightest stars to the youngest beginners, certain body parts just always seem to be at risk.
The ankles are a prime example of an area that athletes must be sure to take care of. Nearly every sport puts some kind of stress on our ankles, which can eventually lead to breaks, tears, sprains, strains, etc. Injuries like this can cripple even the Stephen Currys of the world, who has faced several ankle problems of his own. How are we to attack this problem?
Ankles need plenty of support in order to stay fully healthy. It is a very flexible joint with a wide range of motion, which puts it at risk when you put it through rapid changes in movement, leaping and sprinting. Giving your ankles some support can keep them from breaking down on you, but you don’t want to sacrifice your performance in order to do so. Here are a few ways to make sure you are at the top of your game while also protecting your ankles.
In this day and age, there is no excuse to not have the right equipment. Sporting goods companies have constructed top notch gear from head to toe, ensuring that you can always be at your best while also being protected. The ankle is one area that has certainly not been overlooked.
Ankle braces and supports provide the protection you need to avoid crippling injuries that will render you to the sidelines. However, it is not enough to simply be safe. You still need to be able to perform. This is why many of these pieces of equipment allow the wearer to have a full range of motion and comfort, making it a popular item for successful athletes and frequent gym-goers.
The ankle is full of tiny muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones that are all put at risk doing physical activity. As a result, it is vital that you take time to strengthen all of these little moving parts so that your body will never be caught off guard as you go up for a rebound, round second base on your way to a triple or juke out an incoming linebacker.
Most of the classic stabilization exercises involve standing on one leg. This forces your ankle to support your weight and adjust to the balancing issues related to standing like this. One-legged bodyweight squats are excellent, as are one-legged jumps and one-legged catching drills (which also improves hand-eye coordination). The key is making your body rely on the ankle to stabilize it. This will strengthen the areas that are at risk during physical activity.
Resistance training is another excellent way to support the many muscles, tendons and ligaments in the ankle, while also making them stronger. This set of exercises involves using a resistance band—which can vary in thickness—and then moving the foot in various directions against the pull of the band.
A classic example involves sitting down with your legs extended. One end of the band is wrapped around your foot and the other end in your hands. You then apply tension in any direction you choose while internally and externally flexing and rotating your foot—and only your foot. This set of exercises should be repeated for multiple sets, as it goes a long way towards increasing your ankle stability.
The ankles are not something to be trifled with. Regardless of if you play sports or exercise regularly, you will always use this body part in your everyday life. Not only is this kind of injury one that can put you out of commission for an extended period of time, but it is also the type that will continue to flare up as time goes on.
Don’t be the person whose ankles are always hurting him or her. This is the person who can never consistently perform, instead only showing flashes of brilliance before a balky ankle lets him or her know that it’s time to tone it down. Instead, be the person who never has to worry about this troublesome area because you have put in the work. That person performs, and that is the person you want to be.