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It isn’t the shoes: Ankle sprains and how to prevent them

M

y favorite time of the year is quickly approaching. Along with the sight of falling leaves, the feel of cooling temperatures, and scent of pumpkin spice in the air, is the bouncing of a ball on a hardwood floor. Basketball season is right around the corner and with this sport comes the high incidence of ankle injuries due to the dynamic nature of the game. The demands of basketball require an athlete to have good strength, flexibility, and dynamic balance control in the lower extremities to allow for running, jumping, and cutting maneuvers. The ankle is a common site for injury. Sprains are the most common musculoskeletal injury in athletes, and account for 75 percent of all ankle injuries. Less than 40 percent of ankle sprains can lead to chronic problems. There are things you can do to prevent such injuries. The following are just a few tips to keep in mind when lacing up those sneakers! ■ Preseason conditioning: How in shape am I? ■ Dynamic warm-up prior to activity ■ Pay attention to surfaces (slippery, dirty, cracked) ■ Wear supportive shoes ■ Daily static stretching routine after activity ■ Strengthening and balance program ■ Monitor game time and fatigue to prevent injury When turning on the television to your favorite sports channel, you will most likely be bombarded with a slew of commercials for the latest and greatest footwear. So, regarding shoes: High-top shoes alone do NOT decrease risk for ankle sprain. There is no strong relation-

ship between shoe type and ankle sprains. And shoes with air cells in the heels are four times more likely to injure ankles. Still, no studies provide convincing evidence for shoe style. You might also wonder about taping or bracing your ankles. Well, taping can prevent injury, but it loosens in approximately 10 minutes and within 30 minutes may provide little or no measurable support against inverting the ankle. As for bracing, it provides external support, may enhance proprioception, and is more adjustable than tape. However, it may limit range of motion and mobility, potentially leading to compensations at other joints, especially the knee. One of the most important components to preventing an ankle injury is incorporating a balance program. Balance training is a great way to restore proprioception to regain stability in the ankle and orientation to both static and dynamic activities. The goal of balance training is to improve your reaction time and improve the awareness of an injured joint. Studies have shown a 38 percent reduction rate in ankle injuries in high school basketball players with a balance program. Use these tips to help prevent any ankle injuries and make sure to do your daily stretching, strengthening, and balance routines.

Health Watch Kristen Welsh

Kristen Welsh is a physical therapist for the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes center in Walnut Creek, an extension of Children’s Hospital Oakland. If you have questions or comments regarding the “Health Watch” column, write the SMFYA staff at Health@SportStarsMag. com.

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October 28, 2010

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Issue 10, 10.28.2010