Heart Health Articles

Ankles Can Be Strengthened To Resist Sprain

May 12, 2017

Sprained ankles can be avoided by those at high risk through a weekly balance training program, according to new research released today at the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine at the HERSHEY(R) Lodge and Convention Center.

"Our previous research showed that high school football players who are overweight and have had a previous ankle injury are at increased risk of sustaining a subsequent ankle sprain," says lead author Malachy McHugh, PhD, director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "We have now demonstrated that these injuries can be avoided by having players do balance training on a foam pad for five minutes on each leg several times a week." Dr. McHugh says that ankle sprain is the most common sports injury.

Some researchers have theorized that the compounding effect of a previous ankle sprain and a high body mass index on ankle sprain is due to weakened ankle stability and the lack of dynamic movement control caused by large body mass.

Dr. McHugh and colleagues followed 175 high school varsity football players for three years to determine if balance training could reduce risk of ankle sprain. Those at risk of ankle sprain due to body mass and/or history of previous ankle sprain balanced on each leg for five minutes, five days a week for four weeks in preseason and twice weekly during football season. Injury incidences included games and practices.

The researchers found that 18 percent of the players at increased risk sustained a non-contact ankle sprain compared with 3 percent following the balance training intervention. Prior to intervention, overall injury incidence for those at risk of ankle injury was 2.2 per 1,000 exposures, which was reduced to 0.5 following intervention.

Dr. McHugh and colleagues conclude that stability pad training was inexpensive and easily implemented. It reduced ankle sprains by 77 percent, effectively eliminating the increased risk associated with high body mass and previous sprain.

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) is a national organization of orthopaedic sports medicine specialists. See sportsmed .

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine