Ever perform athletic movements that cause ankles and surrounding muscles to suffer stress and pain? Athletes with strong ankle musculature can typically withstand a greater amount of force without inflicting ankle injuries. Unfortunately in sports, ankles are the most commonly injured body part, with approximately 8 million sprains each year. To decrease the risk of ankle injuries, athletes should focus on body awareness and building strength to not only prevent injury, but also improve performance.
Body awareness training (proprioceptive training) is important for athletes that are involved in sports with quick agility movements such as basketball, hockey, and soccer; these movements rely greatly on stability of the athlete’s ankles. There is a direct correlation between bad ankles and bad balance; some drills that enhance balance and body awareness include standing on 1 leg for 30 seconds (with eyes closed for a greater challenge) and one-legged Medicine Ball throws (at a wall or with a partner).
Along with balancing drills, athletes should also work on strengthening exercises that target all muscle groups supporting the ankles. Simply add resistance, using Strength Bands, to range of motion drills and calf raises. Agility and plyometric training can also strengthen the muscles through game-like movements by using a simple Smart Agility Ladder or Smart Pattern.
With these simple training drills and body awareness, athletes can improve their sport performance and prevent ankle injuries!