Many hockey players can probably attest to the fact that they’ve suffered an ankle sprain somewhere along the line in their career. Player contact and body checks are notorious for causing injuries like sprains and fractures, but anyone can get a sprain. It just takes one little misstep and your ankle can roll the wrong way.

An ankle sprain happens when the ligaments in your feet become stretched too far—or even completely torn. This occurs when your ankle goes beyond its normal range of motion. Hockey players are prone to an ankle injury because of the narrow blade they must balance on and the quick changes of direction in the game. Runners sometimes have to deal with rough terrain, and soccer and football players can get their cleats stuck in the turf.

However, a sprain can happen to anyone at any time—not just athletes. Young people, old people, overweight, in shape, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes a sprain can’t be avoided, but there are things you can do to lessen the likelihood that it will happen.

If you play sports or exercise you will want to make sure that your body is warmed up before you begin. Wear shoes that fit the activity you will be doing. If you are hiking or walking on uneven ground, be extra careful where you are stepping. For daily activities, you should probably avoid wearing high heels whenever possible. Leave them for an occasional night on the town.

There are some exercises you can do every day to strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles. For instance, extend your legs while sitting and use your feet to spell out the letters of the alphabet. You can also do calf raises. This is when you stand with your feet shoulder width apart and then raise up onto your toes. The reverse of this is a shin raise when you lift up your toes so you’re balancing on your heels. All of these exercises will build up strength and can also help with balance.

For more information or treatment for an ankle sprain, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our Haverhill, MA office.