We are entering the thick of basketball season! Games are adding up, and each is becoming more important than the last. At Inside Sports Clinic, we believe one of the best athletic abilities is availability. It is tough to help your team win games if you are sidelined with an injury! Taking care of your body down the stretch is critically important to increasing the likelihood you are available to help your team. A study by the National Athletic Trainer Association showed that over 40% of high school basketball injuries are sprain-type injuries to the foot/ankle. This coincides with what we see in our clinic, with lateral ankle sprains being an injury we see A LOT in our basketball players. Today we are going to cover an effective strategy for strengthening ankles for basketball players!
To start, we like to do some self-administered soft tissue work to loosen the muscles and joints we are targeting. We are big fans of foam rollers for this purpose, but you can use a massage gun, PVC roller, or any other soft tissue tool you have access to that you feel comfortable utilizing. Spending a minute or two working on the calves and ankles creates a temporary increase in range of motion, which feeds into our next step perfectly!
After you have worked on the muscles and joints, we want to reinforce that temporary range of motion we just created with some simple stretching. In the case of the ankle, a top tier stretch choice is the ankle driver! By getting into a deep lunge position and driving your knee towards and over the big toe, we can begin to make our temporary range of motion into a newly acquired range of motion!
Now that we have created a new range of motion and begun to solidify it, we want to add some resistance to create more permanent changes. The age old classic for strengthening the ankles is a simple calf raise. Beginning with the balls of the feet slightly elevated, push through the foot to raise your body up. Hold the position at the top for a second or two, then slowly lower yourself down. As you become more comfortable with the basic calf raise, adding in some variety could be useful for basketball players considering the dynamic nature of the sport! This could mean performing a single leg calf raise, bent knee calf raise, adding extra resistance, increasing the height of foot elevation, and more.
When combined with a well rounded basketball and athletic development program, this trio of activities will lead to strong and resilient ankles. Unfortunately, injuries like ankle sprains are not totally preventable. Sometimes things just happen. If after spraining your ankle you cannot bear weight or lose feeling in your lower leg/foot, then be seen by a provider immediately as these are signs something could be seriously wrong. Tenderness and difficulty walking after 2-3 days are also indications to be seen by a provider. Lastly, if you do not feel confident rehabbing your ankle after a sprain on your own, be seen by a provider!
At Inside Sports Clinic, we begin our treatment protocol by managing pain and swelling with modalities like our NormaTec boots, GameReady cryotherapy, and interferential current therapy. If/when pain and swelling are under control, we utilize joint manipulations and soft tissue therapy treatments to improve joint range of motion. Once the joint’s range of motion has been restored, we begin loading the ankle to tolerance, culminating in balance and proprioception training to ensure the ankle is adequately prepared for a return to activity!
Need help getting your ankles stronger or rehabbing an ankle sprain? Call our office or schedule online so we can help you out!