Your ankles are amazing joints that help you run, walk, stand, jump, and move with ease. Unfortunately, ankle injuries are all too common and can keep you on the sidelines for weeks and even months.
Board-certified surgeons and sports medicine specialists, David Chao, MD, and Matthew Gargulinski, DO, at OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare in San Diego, Encinitas, and Temecula, California, have the expertise needed to diagnose and treat many types of ankle and sports injuries.
But often, the best medicine is prevention. That’s where better body mechanics comes in. Take a moment to learn more about body mechanics and how you improve them to avoid an ankle injury.
Understanding body mechanics
Body mechanics describes how you move when you engage in exercise and sports, as well as how you move when you perform normal activities, including the way you sit, stand, carry things, bend, lift, sleep, walk, run, and more.
Many people have poor body mechanics, which frequently cause injuries and degenerative conditions. The good news is that you can improve your body mechanics and minimize your risk of injury.
Better body mechanics help you avoid muscle fatigue and support you as you move and exercise. This is especially important with your ankles, which support your body weight and may be moved or twisted out of normal position with impact or force.
4 body mechanics tips to avoid ankle injuries
For a customized plan, schedule a sports medicine consultation at OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare. Your provider can recommend preventive and therapeutic treatments based on your unique needs, including:
- Physical therapy
- Stress management
- Nutritional counseling
- Weight management
- Customized exercise plans
- Regenerative medicine
- Corticosteroid injections
- Medications guidance
Our team also knows that simple changes can trigger big results — especially in avoiding ankle injuries. Here’s a look at our top tips:
1. Perform ankle exercises
Improving the mechanics of your ankle helps reduce your chances of injuring your ankle during sports or exercise.
Ankle circles to improve mobility and range of motion
Sit on a chair or on the floor with your knees bent, and lift one leg. Rotate your ankle slowly in a clockwise direction, working through the full range of motion. Complete 20-30 circles, then another 20-30 circles in a counterclockwise direction. Repeat with your other leg.
Ankle ABCs to improve range of motion
Sit on a chair or the ground with your knees bent, then lift one foot off the floor. “Write” the letters of the alphabet with your raised foot. You may also perform this exercise lying on your back with a leg slightly raised.
2. Strengthen your lower legs
Stronger lower leg muscles boost strength in your ankle and offer protection against injury.
Calf raises to strengthen ankles and calves
Stand with your feet slightly apart on the edge of a step or on the floor. Grip the handrail or use the back of a chair if you need added support. Raise your heels so you’re standing on your toes, then lower to the starting position or dip below the edge of the step if applicable. Repeat 10-20 times.
Toe-heel walking to strengthen & stretch calf and shin muscles
Step forward on the balls of your feet to walk on your toes for about 30 steps. Then lean back on your heels and lift your toes, then walk back over the same 30 steps. Finally, combine these two movements to walk heel-to-toe for an additional 30 steps. Step forward on your heel, then roll onto your toes, and finish with a calf raise.
3. Build your balance
Building your balance is good for your overall health and lowers your risk of all injuries. To strengthen your ankle joint, practice balancing on one leg.
You can begin using a chair or the counter to help if your balance isn’t good. Lift one foot off the floor and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. As your balance improves, try standing on one leg during everyday activities, unstable surfaces, or with your eyes closed.
4. Stretch it out
Keeping the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that support your ankle joint function limber helps prevent ankle injuries. You can achieve this by engaging in a simple stretching exercise called “point and flex.”
Lie on your back with your toes toward the ceiling and your heels on the floor. Start the exercise by pointing your toes as far away from your body as possible. Hold the stretch for three seconds, then pull your toes straight up and back toward your body. Hold for three seconds. Repeat at least 10 times.
Learn more about how you can avoid ankle injuries with better body mechanics by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at the OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare office most convenient to you.