Our bodies tell a wonderful story of our lives. My body likes to remind me of over 15 years of skateboarding! One such reminder is ankle sprains. How many of us suffer with this problem? After the first one in my early 20s I've done it over 30 times now, so have got down to a fine art. I've just accepted it, but now I'm fighting against it and here's how!
This is ALWAYS the biggest cause of my ankle sprains. Every single time I've done it in everyday life has been in trainers with an elevated heel and spongy sole. I can't feel the ground beneath me so how do I possibly expect my brain to know how to keep me upright? In the wrong footwear I've done it on completely level ground, just stepping slightly to the side. So really think about your footwear and get it as thin soled as possible. Your brain will then receive feedback signals from your feet as to what's going on beneath you and be able to respond accordingly. Thin soled shoes have numerous benefits including increasing foot mobility- which will help prevent sprains- and increasing the neural pathways from the feet to the brain- which will also help prevent sprains. WIN WIN WIN! Vivo Barefoot are great. I have one pair and need more! I played tennis in them quite shortly after a sprain and felt completely stable, with no problems at all.
2. Strengthen around the joint
This was one area I neglected, so don't make the same mistake. Strengthening the muscles in the feet, calves and shins will help stabilised the ankle joint. There are two videos below which are a great way to target this area of the body, and only a minute long. Again you have the added benefit of building up what's known as proprioception; essentially knowing where body parts are in space and what is going on there.
3. Mobilise the feet
When we sprain our ankles, particularly those who do it quite frequently (once a year or more), the joint ends up loser. The body compensates for this by trying to create stability there by tightening nearby areas. These are often the feet and calves. Foot mobility is really important to help keep us upright! It helps our feet respond to the ground beneath, in turn giving important signals back to the brain. The choices in footwear will help this, but so will manually increasing this with massages and foot exercises. The exercises above will assist and below you'll find a foot massage video you can do yourself very easily.
4. Remove scar tissue
Any injury leaves scar tissue which effects the mobility and general functioning of the area. If left untreated this can have knock on effects to other areas. The massage above will help this. Another good thing to use is the curved edge of a spoon and some oil, running it over the effected area after it's healed. You are scraping away the scar tissue each time you do this and helping the area return to normal functioning.
5. Put your attention in your feet
Pilates and Yoga classes are a great time to do this. Always place your awareness into your feet. The more you do this in classes, the more you do this in day to day life. If you don't attend classes, you can still do this. Simply check in mentally with your feet from time to time. Again, this helps build up proprioception and neural pathways.
All of the above are good things to do even if you've never sprained your ankle. A lot of these things will be coming up in the Habits, Yoga & Pilates program I'll be running soon, where you'll learn to incorporate this into your daily life. If you know you're going to do all of the above daily then that's amazing and it really will help greatly! Get in touch if you have any questions about it all.