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Getting to the core of ankle sprains

General, Urgent Care, Aspire Orthopedic Institute

Almost half of all sports-related injuries are ankle sprains. A painful twisted ankle is also a common injury during slippery winter weather. To make matter worse, reinjury is all too common once you’ve sprained your ankle.

That’s why the physical therapy team at Adventist Health Portland recommends making ankle sprain prevention one of your top exercise goals. Balance, strength and coordination are keys to reducing your risk of ankle injuries, so working out your hips and core are vital your future safety.

Strengthening exercises for ankle safety

Standing on one leg is a simple way to improve your balance and strength. There are several ways to use this exercise:

Firm surface single-leg stance: Stand on a firm, stable surface like an uncarpeted floor. Slowly raise one leg off the floor about 10 inches. Hold this stance for 10 to 30 seconds, then rest and repeat 10 to 20 times. Switch legs and do this again.

Unstable surface single-leg stance: Stand on an unstable surface like a pillow, balance board or foam cushion. Slowly raise one leg off the floor about 10 inches. Hold this stance for 10 to 30 seconds, then rest and repeat 10-20 times. Switch legs and do this again.

Crossed-arms challenge: Do these exercises with your arms crossed for a greater challenge.

Other exercises provide conditioning for your core and hips. Some of these include:

The bridge: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly press your buttocks upward until your chest and abdomen create a flat plane from your neck to your knees. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, then lower your hips to the ground. Rest and repeat five to 10 times.

Lateral leg raises: Lie flat on your side, with one leg atop the other and your head resting on your arm. Raise the upper leg to about a 30-degree angle with your foot flexed (not pointed) and lower it again. Repeat 10 to 20 times, then switch sides.

Leg circles: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg straight above you and trace a circle above you five times. Switch directions and trace another five circles. Lower your leg and repeat with the other leg.

Also add abdominal strengthening exercises like knee lifts and body twists to your daily regimen.

Reducing your pain now and later

If you do twist your ankle, be sure to rest and ice it right away. If your pain is severe, Adventist Health Portland’s urgent care clinics and emergency room can help. Be sure to get treatment from a physical therapist to maximize your recovery and lessen your risk of reinjury.

To request an appointment with Adventist Health Portland physical therapy at any of our area clinics, call 503-261-6962.