Preventing and Rehabbing Basketball Ankle Injuries

Few things can cause a basketball player more grief than basketball ankle injuries.  So why bother having one?  With a little preventative care, you can drastically cut-down your chances of getting an ankle sprain.  In the event you do sprain your ankle…if you have taken these steps, you will see a drastic reduction in the amount of healing time required.  Below you will find stretches, strengthening exercises, and some band work (which strengthens and stretches) that make up the ankle “prehab”. Do this ankle “prehab” 1-2x per week, and say goodbye to sitting out games and practices.

First I wanted to touch on some general things that help strengthen and improve the ROM of the ankle.

  1. Avoid over-supportive footwork.  DO NOT EVER wear any shoes like the Sketcher shoes that have a rounded bottom.  For non-basketball skill training sessions (sessions in the weightroom, at the track, etc.) choose a nice minimal shoe.  Track racing flats work best.  The Asics Piranha is a great shoes and Inov-8 makes a couple great running flats.  If you are very experienced think about training barefoot or in Vibram five-fingers
  2. Why not strengthen all the time?  When you are just around the house or out in the yard, take your shoes and socks off.  Walking around barefoot is great for strengthening the foot and ankle
  3. Give it a roll.  Rolling your foot on a lacrosse ball can do wonders for massaging the muscles in the foot.  This will also have positive effects on your foot/ankle well-being.

 Stretches

Calf-Wall stretch 1:  Standing 3-4 feet from a wall with your feet in perpendicular to the wall in a staggered stance. Lean your forearms against the wall, maintaining a straight line through your spine and pressing your back heel into the ground.  Lean forward further for additional stretch.

Calf-Wall stretch 2: Stand 12 inches from wall, step one foot toward wall so heel is on the ground just in front of wall, and toes/ball of foot are on the wall.  Lean forward so stretch is felt in calf.

Tibialis anterior stretch: Sit down on a chair with your left ankle resting on the opposite knee (the actual ankle bone should be about two inches off the thigh). Point your toes and grasp them with your right hand and gently pull them toward you on your right side. Hold it for 2-3 seconds and repeat 8 times for each ankles.

Ankle eversion stretch: In the same position as the previous stretch, grasp the middle of your foot with your hands and from the ankle, rotate the foot inward towards you so the sole of your foot is points up. Use the hands to gently increase the stretch for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 8 times for each ankle.

Ankle inversion stretch: In your chair, raise one leg so that one foot is still on the floor and the heel of the other foot is on the chair just in front of your butt. Rotate this foot outward and gently assist it with your hands placed on the forefoot. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat 8 times for each ankle.

Range of motion practice: Lift one foot into the air and draw the alphabet with your toes.

Strengthen

Towel scrunches: Sitting in the chair, place a hand towel underneath your mid-foot and your heel placed firmly on the floor behind it. Use your toes to scrunch the towel as far as possible. Repeat 3 times for each foot.

Towel scoops: Sitting in the chair, place a hand towel underneath your mid-foot and your heel placed firmly on the floor behind it.  Move your forefoot toward the midline of your body, straighten and repeat until you have passed the towel from outside your foot to the inside.

Towel push-aways: Sitting in the chair, place a hand towel underneath your mid-foot and your heel placed firmly on the floor behind it.  Push your mid-foot away from your body, straighten and repeat until the towel has moved from the inside of the foot to the opposite side.

Calf raises: Stand with the ball of your foot on a step or box (hold onto a wall or railing for balance if needed). With a straight knee and the non-exercising leg bent at the knee, raise yourself by pointing the toe of the exercising leg. Repeat 10 slow calf raises with each leg.

Heel walking: raise your toes in the air and walk SOFTLY only on the heels of your feet for 15 to 20 yards. (best to do this on a soft surface)

Band

Ankle rotation: Sitting with both legs out in front of you.  Place band around your waist on one end, and loop band around middle of the foot on other end.  Once band is in position, rotate ankle in full range of motion in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

Ankle inversion/eversion: Sitting with both legs out in front of you.  Place band around your waist on one end, and loop band around middle of the foot on other end.  Once band is in position, slide the leg that does not have the band wrapped around it’s foot, under the calf of the leg that does. (you could also use a foam roller to prop leg up) Hold the inside of the band firmly with your hand (the side of the ban between your legs).  Roll your ankle inwards then outwards, using the hand to provide resistance on the band.  Eversion is the same process, but the band will be held on the outside.

Ankle flexion/extension: Sitting with both legs out in front of you.  Place band around your waist on one end, and loop band around the ball of the foot on other end.  Once band is in position, slide the leg that does not have the band wrapped around it’s foot, under the calf of the leg that does. (you could also use a foam roller to prop leg up) Hold the both sides of the band firmly with your hand.  Flex and extend your ankle (bring your toes as close to your body as far as you can, then flex them away from your body as far as you can.

Achilles tendon stretch: Sitting with both legs out in front of you.  Place band around your waist on one end, and loop band around the ball of the foot on other end.  Once band is in position, slide the foot of the leg with the band around it, towards your body so the heel is only 12-18 inches from your butt. Keeping the ankle in line with knee, the band should be held tightly with both hands against the leg just below the knee.  With the very back of your heel continually on the ground, pull the toes up and back towards your shin, then down towards the ground (with resistance coming from holding the band against the knee.

About Joe Lucas

Joe Lucas is the founder of The World of Hoops. DSC_8916 He has 25 years of experience playing basketball, training basketball players, and coaching basketball. The World of Hoops provides intelligent and intense basketball training to take basketball players to the next level.

Comments

  1. Worked like a charm to get rid of my ankle pain I have. Will definitely be doing this 3 times a week 😀

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