Volleyball is an exciting sport that involves plenty of jumping and landing. As a result, injuries to the ankle are a frequent occurrence, with ankle sprains being one of the most common types of injuries. Despite the almost certain possibility of accidentally spraining an ankle, there are a few things you can do to minimize this occurrence from happening:
1) Be sure all surfaces are free of debris and slippery areas
2) Wear proper footwear with soles conducive to volleyball floor surfaces
3) Lace all footwear tightly avoiding slippage inside the shoe
4) Practice landing techniques with avoidance of over pronating your foot when you land
5) Wear appropriate and recently fitted orthotics if they have been previously prescribed for you
Unfortunately, the medical research doesn’t strongly support methods for preventing a first-time ankle sprain from occurring. In fact, it is proven that the greatest risk factor for spraining an ankle is actually having a previous ankle sprain. Therefore, if you have already sprained your ankle before, you can take measures to minimize the chances of spraining your ankle again. You should always have your ankle evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider following an injury to determine your rehabilitation plan and decision for a safe return to participation.
Following an ankle sprain, the following interventions have been shown to possibly assist with preventing or minimizing the severity of a recurrent ankle sprain:
- Allowing for maximal healing before returning to participation
- Performing proprioceptive exercises for balance and neuromuscular control
- Performing strengthening exercises for muscles surrounding the ankle and foot
- Possible use of ankle bracing, taping and/or orthotics
- Re-learning of sport-specific movements and techniques – such as for proper blocking and attacking during the take-off and landing phase
The key to ongoing avoidance of a recurrent ankle sprain is to integrate these interventions into your daily routine. Performing rehabilitation exercises immediately following an original ankle sprain will assist in returning to participation, but it may not play a critical role in the prevention of future ankles sprains. Spending the couple of extra minutes per day performing preventive ankle injuries may keep you on the volleyball court longer!