An ankle sprain can sideline your fun in a hurry, not to mention your fitness. You can protect your ankles by providing them with special attention in the form of their own strengthening and stretching program, including ankle eversion stretching. Developing the muscles surrounding the ankle can keep the joint steady, according to the orthopedic specialists at Princeton University. Moreover, increased flexibility will preserve your range of motion and keep a simple misstep from turning your ankle and causing a sprain.
What Is an Ankle Sprain?
Tough fibrous bands of tissue called ligaments link the bones in your joints. When you turn your ankle hard enough to stretch or even tear these ligaments, you’ve incurred a sprain. The injury is most common among basketball and volleyball players, though soccer and tennis players have their share of ankle sprains as well.
An Easy Ankle Eversion Stretch
Basically, any move that involves the sole of your foot turning outward, away from the center of your body, is considered an eversion stretch. Try this stretch from the ankle specialists at PerformanceOrthopedics.com: Sit in a chair and lift your right leg in the air, the sole of your foot parallel to the ground. Slowly angle your foot to the right, turning the sole away from your body. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat with your left foot. Do five to 10 repetitions with each foot. If you’re not feeling the stretch on the inside of your ankle, try reaching down and pulling your foot gently with your hand.
Assisted Eversion Stretching
When you’re ready, you can get more of a stretch through the use of a towel. Sit on the ground with your legs flat out in front of you, and wrap the towel around the ball of your right foot and hold both ends in your right hand. Now gently pull your foot to the right to create an eversion stretch, which you will again feel on the inside of your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat this with your left foot. Do another stretch with each foot.
Eversion Stretch With Resistance
As you advance, pump up the intensity of your ankle eversion stretching by grabbing surgical tubing, available at a sporting goods stores. Sit in a chair with a table leg to the right of your body. Wrap one loop of the tubing around the ball of your left foot and place the other end around the leg of the table. Sit far enough from the table leg that the resistance band is taut. Slowly turn your left foot away from the table to increase the resistance; you'll feel the resistance and stretch on the inside of your ankle. After five to 10 repetitions, turn your chair so the table leg is on your left, and repeat with your right foot.
John Hastings has written and edited health, fitness and science stories for magazines, websites and iPad publications. He has held senior editorial positions at "O, The Oprah Magazine," "Reader’s Digest" and "Health." He has also contributed to magazines such as "Men’s Journal" and "Bon Appetit."