Articles Prevention of Ankle Sprains in Sports

May 29, 2019

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries to occur on the sports field. The prevention of ankle sprains can be achieved by taking precautions and performing specific exercises.

Ankle Sprain Risk Factors 

Proven risk factors have been listed below. The good news is most of these can be modified and reduced:

  • history of ankle sprains 
  • negotiating  uneven ground
  • individuals who participate in sports requiring sudden changes of direction
  • older athletes
  • wearing inappropriate or poor fitting foot wear 
  • individuals with poor balance
  • individuals with hyper mobile joints
  • lack of ankle flexibility 
  • poor rehabilitation following previous ankle sprains
Inappropriate foot wear increases your risk of an ankle sprain

Prevention of Ankle Sprains- What Type of Exercises Should I Do?

We have compiled a list of preventative exercises below to get you started. Please note, if you have recently sprained your ankle these exercises are NOT suitable for you. It is always best to see a health professional to tailor an exercise program for your specific needs.

Range of Motion/Stretching

These exercises are aimed at improving the flexibility in your ankles.

Calf stretch
Anterior Ankle Stretch
– A stretch should be felt at the front of the ankle joint


These exercise are aimed at getting the muscles around the ankle joint stronger.

Heel raises
T- Kicks with Theraband
-Connect the theraband to your GOOD leg and do several repetitions of each position above
– This exercise forces you to balance on your bad leg

Hopping Exercises

Ankle sprains are more likely to occur when landing and changing direction. These exercise are aimed at improving your dynamic balance and stability.

Box Hop
-Start at 1. and follow the pattern to .4
– You can also do the mirror image of this pattern to work out each side equally
Cross Hop
– Try to pause on each X
Triple Hop
-Try to cover as much distance as you can hopping forwards 3 times
– Pause each time you land

Running Drills

These exercises are aimed at specifically replicating manoeuvres performed on the sports field .

Side stepping between cones
5m Running Square
– Follow the pattern as above
– Once you hit the starting point, you can do the mirror image of the above pattern to work both sides equally
Ladder drills

Other Tips

  • Make sure you have good fitting comfortable footwear and that the tread is appropriate for the type of surface you are playing on (i.e. grass, artificial surface, cross country)
  • Regularly inspect and replace worn out shoes
  • There is always a period of adjustment when purchasing new equipment (i.e. shoes, orthotics). It is always a good idea to break in new equipment before using them in a game situation (i.e. training sessions)
  • We tend to be more sloppy with technique and make more errors occur when we are fatigued. It is important to maintain a high level of cardiovascular fitness to prevent injury.
  • If you are recovering from an ankle sprain or suffer from recurrent sprains it is a good idea to use preventative strapping or bracing during sporting activity to decrease the chances of reinjury.

Prevention of Ankle Sprains-Bracing and Strapping

The type of brace or strapping you use will be dependent on what type of ankle sprain you are trying to prevent.


When applied appropriately, we find taping to be a lot more effective at restricting unwanted ankle movement compared to bracing. The downside to taping is:

  • need to be applied properly to be effective
  • time consuming to apply
  • risk of skin allergies to tape
  • can become expensive over time

It is a good idea to consult a health professional to teach you how to correctly apply tape for your specific condition. A few pointers include:

  • use 38mm RIGID tape, flexible tape will not provide enough support
  • practice your taping technique BEFORE the game
  • make sure your ankle is at 90 degrees when applying tape
  • do not apply the tape too tightly
  • think about the ligaments you are trying to reinforce


If you have sensitive skin or suffer from recurrent ankle sprains bracing would be the better option for you. It is always good idea to try a brace on before purchasing. Make sure it’s comfortable and it restricts the unwanted movement.

99% of ankle sprains occur from either rolling inwards or outwards. Most commercially available braces will prevent excessive twisting motions of the ankle.

High ankle sprains are rare (1% of all ankle sprains) and will require a brace which prevents rotation of the foot, separation of the lower leg bones and excessive rolling motions of the ankle.

High ankle sprain brace

Please keep in mind the information provided is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute to consult your treating health professional. If you have any specific questions or require assistance with your individual treatment requirements please do not hesitate to contact My Family Physio Mona Vale.

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