Question: I twisted my ankle and sprained it twice this past basketball season which kept me off the floor most of the season. I’ve been through rehab and I’ve been so frustrated I am considering just not playing anymore. Before I do that, what can I do to strengthen my ankles, stay in the game and try to play in college?
Answer: Unless the doctors recommend that you not play anymore in order to keep walking without an ankle fusion in your future keep looking for a way. Your situation is similar to Stephen Curry’s a couple of years ago. The difference for him now, was his dedication to his health and training with a purpose. What you should do is to obviously continue with those exercises prescribed by your therapist and determine how you can expand on those as you transfer from a rehab situation to a building phase.
Posterior movement chain muscles, glutes( all three), psoas, hip flexors, IT band and hamstrings all need to be strengthened individually and as a movement unit.
Another huge area of impact is to improve flexibility in each of those areas.
The final concept is to strengthen the body as a whole unit without adding too much additional mass in the process. You’re not trying to become a bodybuilder but be stronger and explosive on the court.
By strengthening the posterior movement chain (PMC) the athlete gradually alters the way movement is initiated and directional changes occur. When the core muscles are stronger they initiate the movement and carry the load rather than relying on lower structure, ankles and knees, to adapt to changes. In other words, the stress of explosive drives and changing directions is carried by the core, not the ankles. For women’s soccer players this is especially true because they have a higher incidence non-impact ACL injuries. A stronger core and PMC can lower the risk of those injuries.
Use uni-lateral exercises like single leg squats, and hip presses to strengthen core muscles. Full range squats hit glutes and hip flexors at the bottom of the movement but half squats won’t. IT band exercises like clams help strengthen and protect your knees. The list of exercises is long and we use multiple exercises to achieve core balance.
God bless and keep training,