Preventing an ankle sprain is essential for keeping athletes in the game and maximizing performance. Soccer requires sudden changes in speed and direction. These movements are associated with a high percentage of injuries, ankle sprains being the most common in soccer players. Sprains result in significant time lost from sport participation, are costly, and painful. The best treatment for ankle an sprain is prevention. Prevention will save you time, money, and prolong your soccer career as well as improve performance.
Once a ligament is torn, it will never be as strong as it once was and predisposes an athlete to reoccurring sprains.
Athletes with previous ankle sprains
are 5 times more likely to re-injure themselves.
Not only do ankle sprains increase ones risk for future sprains, they also present risk for injuries in other parts of the body. The reason being, the body is system and functions as a whole. For an athlete to run, proper mechanics must take place in entire lower chain (foot, ankle, knee, and hip). If any one part is not functioning correctly, other areas begin to compensate, leading to increased stress. For example, have you ever had a blister and continued walking as it rubbed against your shoe? The pain of the blister causes you to alter your "walking mechanics" as you try and walk without the blister rubbing against your shoe. This increases the stress on the lower chain. Now consider how altered body mechanics with effects a soccer player when running is 3 times your body weight. If an athlete is compensating from an old injury and performing altered "running mechanics", forces will not be dispersed equally throughout the body which could result in injuries in other areas.
Proprioceptive training is an important
aspect at preventing ankle sprains.
Athletes must master each level, performing 3-5 minutes before advancing to the next level.
Level 1: Stand on one leg on a hard surface. Use your other leg to move a soccer ball in quick varying small directions. Example: think of a clock on the ground and move the ball from 12-6, 10-5, 1-9, and so forth. Alternate technique: Get a teammate and throw a ball back and forth without losing your balance.
Level 2: Perform level one but increase difficulty by standing on a foam surface. If you have a yoga matt, fold it over a couple times to provide a foam surface. If not, fold up 2-3 towel to create a soft surface and stand on it.
Level 3: Perform level one but increase difficulty by closing eyes. Level one is standing on a hard surface. Yes, I’m sure you cannot catch or throw without your vision so get creative. Have someone lightly push your shoulders from varying positions (perturbation). Perturbations should be light enough that it requires your ankle to respond. Alternate technique: Use your soccer ball to perform the quick small movement with your opposite foot as you did in level 1.
Level 4: Stand on one leg, on a foam surface, with eyes closed either using a soccer ball to perform quick small movements, a teammate performing perturbations through shoulders, or perform quick arm movements to challenge your balance.
More Information on Proprioception
Proprioception provides the body with feedback about orientation and position of the body in relation to other segments of the body. Proprioception is provided by mechanoreceptors.
Mechanoreceptors send the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) information related to joints. There role is to protect the joint by regulating muscle tone, kinesthetic sense, static and dynamic position, acceleration and deceleration of movement, and monitors the direction of movement. Mechanoreceptors are found in ligaments and are damaged during trauma such as ankle sprains.
Remember PREVENTION IS KEY and WILL MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE. If you experience an ankle sprain, please refer to my blog "How to Properly Treat an Ankle Sprain".
Feel free to contact us at 512-298-3903 with any questions that you may have.