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4 Exercises to Bulletproof Your Ankle Joints

Here's the basic training program you need to prevent injury and stay off the sidelines.

Ankle sprains: Trail runners get them, soccer players hate them, and b-ballers suffer them frequently. Chances are high that if you’re an athlete, you’ve had one or two in the past yourself. The most common type of ankle sprain is an inversion sprain, in which the foot rolls inward and ligaments of the lateral ankle are injured.

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If you’ve got a fresh sprain, the best advice has always been RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, if you’re eager to have less pain and return to activity quicker, research shows that you should add early mobilization to that list.

Assuming you’re injury free and would like to stay that way, there is a bit of preventative work you can do to decrease your risk of ankle sprains.

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Dr. Kathryn Schabel, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor at Oregon Health Science University says, "Key concepts in ankle inversion injury prevention are ankle training and terrain surveillance. Trail runners, hikers, and others at high-risk benefit from one-legged balance and proprioception exercises." She continues, "The stronger your leg muscles are, the less likely you are to sprain an ankle. And, the more accustomed your brain is to anticipating and firing those muscles, the less injury-prone you will be."

Try these exercises three times per week for ankle strength and balance.

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