Ankle Prehab / Rehab
Updated: Aug 16, 2021
I lose track of the amount of athletes that walk (or hobble) into my gym having suffered an ankle injury in their practice/games. An ankle injury is a pain in the arse and can sidetrack you from performing optimally. So how do I, as a coach combat this? I know
it’s a problem and a potential car crash for my athlete so I need to dedicate some time to ankle prehab EVERY DAY.
I don’t have the best memory, but I once was at a presentation and heard a coach say “if its important, do it every day”. This quote has always resonated with me especially in the context of prehab/rehab. As a result I prioritize some form of ankle prehab into every single session with my court and field based athletes. I encourage them to add simple exercises into their pre-practice / game routine also. My rational for this is my own anecdotal evidence from 10 odd years as an S&C coach and my 15 years prior to that as a professional athlete. However many wont take my word for it so here is some evidence for the numbers guys and scientist.
In a recent systematic review, the ankle was found to be the most common site of injury in 24 of the 70 sports studied (1).
Acute sprains are among the most common injury in soccer players and are generally treated conservatively, with emphasis placed on secondary prevention to reduce the risk for future sprains and progression to chronic ankle instability (2).
Account for up to 40% of all athletic injuries. Most commonly seen in basketball, soccer, running, and ballet/dance. Account for up to 53% of basketball injuries & 29% of football injuries (3).
I'm not going to dive too deep in to the anatomy of the ankle or the function of the ankle. A quick google search will find you some experts on that. I'm assuming most of my readers want to get to the nitty gritty of the ankle rehab of the injury or the pre-hab to reduce the instance of the injury. However, let's take a quick look at what makes up the ankle.
Types of Injuries
Now that we know what the ankle looks like what type of injuries happen around it? Here is a great info graphic I nabbed of my mate google. Pretty much sums it up.
Here is also a really nice video from the MAYO clinic about ankle injuries HERE.
Ankle Prehab / Rehab Video
So now we have a bit of background, its time for the hands on applied side of the article.
I have put together a short video with some quick wins for ankle pre-hab (I like the term prehab or bulletproofing, but these exercises are also good for the ‘rehab’ setting too).
When should we use these exercises?
Well, refer to my point above “EVERY DAY”.
How should we use these exercises?
I like to work on a pain grade of 0-10 with all this type of stuff. Some coaches think that you have to be a zero of the exercises shouldn’t be done. I don’t buy into this, its normal for some discomfort when rehabbing an injury, and its needed to figure out boundaries and when and how to push the process. So if these exercises don’t cause you anything above a 3 (mild discomfort/slight pain) then crack on. If they do then we need to back up a little and find some more remedial exercises, or investigate the problem a little bit further with a qualified physio. Otherwise make these drill part of your daily arsenal in order to bulletproof yourself and stay on the field or court!!!!.
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Fong DT, Hong Y, Chan LK, Yung PS, Chan KM. A systematic review on ankle injury and ankle sprain in sports. Sports Med 2007;37: 73–94
Belle Mead, N.J. Foot and Ankle Injuries in Soccer American journal of orthopedics (47(10)October 2018
Anderson, JAAOS, 2010.