How to Reduce the Risk of Ankle Sprain By 50%


If you are looking for some quick tips on ankle sprain treatments, click here

When you sign up for a mud run or obstacle course event, your mind immediately leaps to the training you’ll need to do.

You’ve got lots of running ahead of you, and lots of strength work focusing on your core and functional fitness. You may be thinking about organizing a group of your friends to participate with you, or maybe just to come along and cheer you on.

Here’s a heads up – before you start working out the fun details and imagining what it will feel like to face plant into a pool of mud, you’d be well advised to spend some of your preparation time on injury prevention. Take a quick look at the general statistics about sports injuries and you’ll know just what I mean. Sprained ankles are as common to athletes as the common cold is to the population in general, so it just makes sense that mud runners turn lots and lots of ankles.

High Risk Factors

The reality of the mud run is that for every twelve foot wall you have to scale, you’re going to have a twelve foot drop down on the other side. For every tree root you hurdle there are going to be a couple you’re going to trip on, and the more you keep your eyes straight ahead to see what the next obstacle is, the more likely it is that you’re going to step in a hole or land on a rock and turn your ankle, which is exactly how sprains happen.

A sprain is the medical term for turning your foot the way it’s not meant to go, and doing damage at the same time. Whether your foot rolls to the inside or the outside, you run the risk of (at best) stretching and (at worst) tearing one or more of the three ligaments that holds your ankle joint together.

One solution is keeping your eyes open and remaining as vigilant as possible about where your foot is falling. The other thing that you can do is strengthen your ankles, beef up your balance, and make sure you have the right equipment.

Mitigating Injury Risk

There are a ton of exercises that you can do to improve your ankle strength and increase your balance. Your goal is to increase your agility and also make sure that you have lots of flexibility, so if you add some bear crawls (hand and feet crawling), some quick side shuffles and run a few figure eights before you start your regular workout, it will be a help.

Doing these exercises barefoot actually helps educate your feet about different surfaces, and if you can do them someplace that’s a bit uneven you’ll be training your feet to be more reactive and responsive. Lying on your back with your feet elevated and spelling out the entire alphabet with your toes may feel silly but it improves your foot’s range of motion, so do it with each foot, every day.

Balance training is another small thing you can do that will have big payoffs – in fact, researchers have shown that improved balance decreases the chance of spraining your ankle by almost half, and it’s so easy to do that you don’t have to add anything to your schedule.

Improving your balance can be done while you’re standing in line at the supermarket or brushing your teeth in the morning; all you have to do is lift one foot and balance on the other for a full minute – then switch. It’s deceptively simple, but can go a long way to teaching your brain how to react when you’re off-balance, which is exactly what you need it to do as soon as your foot starts to roll.

If you want some more complex balance exercises to try, tie a Theraband or elastic tube with foot straps to a heavy stationary object about six inches up from the floor. Now turn away at a distance that provides some resistance and attach the other end to your ankle. Place your untethered foot at a point of resistance, bend your knee, then lift the tied ankle and pull your foot forward, ahead of the foot that your weight is on and hold the position. Tough, isn’t it? Now turn around and do it in reverse. Turn towards your anchor with the untied foot at resistance distance, knee bent, and pull your tethered foot backwards and hold the position. Do about five reps a few times a week and you’ll find your balance and ankle strength markedly improved.


It feels good to have some fun but that feeling will rapidly evaporate if you were to get hurt (not to mention the inconveniences AFTER the race is over).

So what do you need to do to make sure that the odds are in your favor? In addition to strengthening exercises mentioned above, make sure you’re properly equipped.

Compression socks that go at least halfway up your shin and shoes that provide good support while allowing you to feel and react to the ground beneath your feet are a smart investment.

Some racers recommend the likes of Vibram FiveFingers because barefoot-like shoes force you to concentrate on where you are running to avoid rocks and other sharp objects, which in the end reduces your chances of rolling your ankle(s).

Always, always pay attention to surrounding elements while running/climbing/swimming, then have fund. After all, that beer will taste lot better standing.


  1. […] ankle but also making you feel more confident when you go out for your first post-injury run (click here to read more about ankle sprain injury prevention […]

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