Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Twist and Shout: How to Minimize Ankle Sprains

continued...

"Shoes do make a tremendous difference," says Perry Julien, DPM, of the Atlanta Foot and Ankle Center. "When shoes are worn out, they lose some of their inherent stability. So replacing the shoes regularly is important. Also, getting the specific shoe for the specific sport [is key]. What often happens is people will go on vacation and take just one pair of shoes. But running shoes lack lateral stability." No lateral stability means that you run the risk of an ankle sprain should you hit the basketball or tennis court wearing them. According to Julien, high-tops don't necessarily offer higher protection, but they do provide a degree of proprioception that will allow the ankle to react to potential injury. Studies on high-tops, however, have been mixed.

"The bottom line is: The shoe construction does not significantly decrease the incidence of ankle sprains," says Albohm.

So what about a brace or taping? Albohm says there's a bottom line there, too. "If you're dealing with healthy ankle joints with no previous injuries -- and ones that have been properly strengthened -- then you don't need any preventative measures externally," she says. But for those with a history of ankle sprains -- especially ones that have kept them out for 2-3 weeks -- it's a different story. "Then you've compromised the ligaments in that joint and created some instability that will not return to normal," Albohm says. "For those individuals, external protection is recommended and highly suggested."

Julien warns that some 'bracing' is ineffective. "The elastic braces provide very little stability," he says. "Some proprioception, some bracing -- but not a significant amount of stability."

Albohm prefers the lace-up type of braces but says that nothing works better externally than a good taping. 'Good,' she warns, does not mean 'amateur.' "Taping must be applied by a trained, skilled practitioner who knows what he's doing," she says. Otherwise, more damage can be done -- especially if the ankle gets fixed in the wrong position and the athlete plays on it.

Green notes that taping is not a substitute for strength -- just an enhancement. "There's a little bit of controversy -- if I'm taped or braced does it make the ankle weaker? There is a feeling among some athletes and coaches that it might. But I feel if you have [enough strength to begin with], it gives [added] support," he says.

Some sports may be harder on the ankles than others. Basketball, soccer, and football, for instance, place more strain on the joint. But Green says that nearly every athlete is vulnerable to an injury because they engage in "dry-land conditioning."

All the experts agree that ankle injuries shouldn't be taken lightly because one can more easily lead to another. "It's important to be evaluated. You might have torn a ligament or fractured something," Julien says. But before heading to the doctor, there may be a couple of things that can be done at home. "Get it on ice -- 15-20 minutes every couple of hours," he says. "Limit weight bearing as much as possible; apply some medium compression, such as an ACE wrap. Start from the toes and wrap upward" to avoid more swelling in the foot.

"Don't treat it as a minor injury," says Julien. "Most ankle sprains are undertreated, and people tend to have problems down the road."

1|2

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
Teen girl jogging
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article