Athletic trainers are no strangers to ankle taping. No matter the sport, quick changes in direction and/or prolonged stress of the ankle leaves it incredibly susceptible to injury. Getting ahead of the game is key in injury prevention, but before you go having every athlete doing hundreds of ankle exercises, consider the most important components of building an ankle injury prevention program. Here are the top five tips from veteran athletic trainer and physical therapist Dr. Phil Page:
How to build an ankle injury prevention program
1. Recognize those at higher risk for injury.
Those athletes who have already sustained ankle injuries in the past are much more vulnerable. Get a full history from the athlete before you start planning their injury prevention program.
2. Use ankle braces for those with history of sprain.
Several studies have shown that ankle braces are most effective for preventing another sprain. The type of brace you use will depend on demands of sport and even the position. Options include:
- Light: Ankle sleeves provide maximum mobility with moderate support. The Active Ankle 329 High-Compression Ankle Sleeve uses compression to support ligaments, prevent swelling and keep the joint warm.
- Medium: Lace-up braces maintain protection and limit mobility. The straps in the Active Ankle AS1 Pro Brace mimic a taping heel-lock that stays put.
- Maximal: Rigid ankle braces deliver the highest degree of protection. The Active Ankle Eclipse I Brace protects against rolling while opening the inner ankle for greater ankle mobility, while the Eclipse 2 Brace provides maximal protection with bilateral hinges.
3. Incorporate balance training using unstable surfaces.
Balance training works… period. In fact, one football program saw a 77% reduction in ankle injuries after training with the TheraBand Stability Trainers. Grab a set of Stability Trainers and Balance Boards to utilize this research-proven method of injury prevention.
4. Make the plan easy to implement with little equipment.
Keep it simple. Making the program easily accessible with minimal equipment may encourage team adoption by coaches. A couple of TheraBand Stability Trainers for balance training and TheraBand CLX Elastic Resistance Bands for strengthening and stretching are easy tools to stock in the athletic training room and to give athletes to carry in their bags.
5. Perform the preventive routine daily.
Make your routine a part of the athlete’s warm up routine for maximum effectiveness. This helps make prevention a habit!