Chronic Ankle Instability: What is it? and How to Prevent Future Re-Injury

by Sarah Jane Walker

Ankle Inversion sprains are one of the most common injuries that can occur during sports, specifically ones that involve a variety of plyometric movements such as running, cutting, jumping and landing. The chances of re-injury later on in life are likely to increase if proper rehab isn’t performed. This can ultimately lead to developing a condition called Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI), which is characterized by insufficient healing of the tissues causing your ankle to give-way repeatedly. If you are someone who has had several ankle sprains over the years and want to increase your strength and mobility around the ankle joint – here are a few tips that can be included in your training regime.

Balance Training with Bosu Ball

Balance Training with Bosu Ball

Balance Training is an important component of ankle stability to help re-introduce neuromuscular control following an injury, and by also challenging the joints proprioceptive skills. → Try holding a single leg stance position for 30 secs and repeat 3-5 times. → A more advanced version is to change your center of mass by adding a weight on the side you are standing on, which will increase the force of gravity downwards and simultaneously challenge your balance.

Dynamic Stability - CLOCK

Dynamic Stability – CLOCK

By using the image of a clock with different landmarks, this can challenge your ankle stability by applying multi-directional forces, and moving your body mass outside your center of gravity. Invision an imaginary clock and put landmarks located at the 12 o’clock / 3 o’clock / 6 o’clock / 9 o’clock. Stand directly in the middle of the circle and use your uninjured side to tap each landmark. To make it more difficult you can tap in between each landmark as well.

Peroneal Strengthening

Peroneal Strengthening (Ankle Evertor Muscles)

Peroneal Strengthening is a key component to a successful rehab as these muscles keep the outside of the ankle joint strong. An easy way to strength train these muscles are by using a theraband to apply resistance on the outside of your foot. → Get a theraband and wrap it around the arch of your foot, just below the ankle joint. Have the other end of the band attached to something stable. Begin to move your foot outwards in a slow and controlled manner.

Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobility - Knee to Wall

Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobility Knee to Wall

Oftentimes limited ankle dorsiflexion is highly correlated with ankle sprains. If the ankle joint doesn’t have the appropriate mobility for landing mechanics, then individuals are more likely to experience sprained ankles. The Knee-to-Wall mechanism is often used as an objective measure during the assessment to get a baseline for ankle mobility. However, this can be practiced several times to increase ankle dorsiflexion and simultaneously lengthening the soleus muscle in the calve. → While maintaining your foot and heel flat on the ground, actively bend your knee forward to go over the toes and touch the knee to the wall. Be sure to hold onto the wall for balance and continue to move the foot further away from the wall until you can no longer keep your foot flat on the ground. Once maximum distance is obtained, you can hold that position for a nice calf stretch at the end.