The Most Common Injury
If I could see you all at once and could ask you all at once, “think of someone you know that has sprained their ankle in cheerleading”, I can GUARANTEE almost every single person could think of at least one. There has been one somewhat widespread study that was conducted to determine the prevalence of injuries in cheerleading and there overwhelming winner for most common injury was ankles.
If we could eliminate ankle sprains, it would cut more than half of the total injuries in the sport. MORE THAN HALF. That’s crazy! Whether you are dealing with an ankle sprain, have had one in the past that still gives you some trouble, or want to prevent them so that you aren’t the one person left off the floor at competition…then keep reading!
Why are there so many ANKLE SPRAINS?
It is pretty well known that in cheerleading, the majority of activities are performed on a somewhat unstable surface, a spring floor. While it isn’t the equivalent of being on a trampoline, when performing high level activities, it does present us with a surface that requires added focus and stability. Additionally, cheerleading shoes aren’t exactly the most supportive footwear. They are designed to be lightweight and reproduce the feeling of being barefoot. Plus, cheerleaders wear out their shoes and then often times use tape to hold them together…almost like a badge of honor for the amount of work done in them (I get it…I respect it).
The ankle is a pretty complex structure with ALOT of bones and ligaments. One odd thing about the ankle is that it isn’t supported the same on both sides. The inside of the ankle (big toe side) has more ligaments that the pinky toe side. For this reason, most people injure the pinky toe side when they “roll their ankle”. Then it gets swollen and bruises and is usually pretty darn painful.
Multiple Ankle Sprains
Ever notice that once someone rolls their ankle, it is pretty likely that they will do it again? The reason for that is kind of like a chicken or the egg situation…which came first? There are some muscles on the pinky toe side of your lower leg (below the knee) that provide support to the outside of your ankle.
When the ankle is sprained, tests show that this muscle is not firing as well as it should which leads to less ankle stability and more ankle sprains. However, we don’t know if it was firing less before the initial ankle sprain…remember the “chicken or the egg” thing earlier? All that matters is that if we do not strengthen this area of the body, we are missing a really important thing that can help rehab an injured ankle or prevent ankle injuries.
Ankle Sprain Rehab (Pre-hab) Exercise
This fun and challenging exercise is called The Clock Face. Start by standing on the affected (or injured) ankle. Take a slight bend in the knee and with the other leg, reach the foot out as far as possible toward each number on a clock face. Try to tap the toe on the ground as softly as possible (think testing the pool water). You are allowed to bend the knee as much as necessary, but don’t step full weight on to the tapping foot. Make sure to go around the clock face in both directions and if you are using it as prevention, give it a go on both sides