This guide, taken from a recent [tag]baseball coaching clinic[/tag], is intended to help coaches treat, prevent, and speed recovery in their athletes. The most common 10 injuries in [tag]baseball[/tag] (as well as other sports) will be covered over the next few postings. The first one I want to touch on is [tag]ankle sprain[/tag].
Description: The ligaments in the ankle that hold the bones together have been overstretched. This happens most commonly when the ankle twists and pressure is put on the ligaments on the outside of the foot. Ankle sprains commonly occur when an athlete is jumping or running on an uneven surface, or when an athlete puts weight on an improperly planted foot. There are different degrees of sprains, which require different treatment and healing time. A light sprain is when the ligaments are stretched but not actually torn. There will be swelling but no real damage done. A moderate sprain happens when the ligaments are partially torn but not completely so. A severe sprain includes those injuries that caused by violent twisting, when most of the ligaments tear. For all sprains, there will be swelling and bruising. If there is pain on the inside of the ankle when the athlete takes a step, they should be X-rayed for a hairline fracture.
Prevention: It is important to wear proper foot equipment for the exercise being performed. Wearing supportive, appropriate footwear reduces the ankle’s ability to turn and protects the foot from injury. All exercise sessions should begin with a proper warm-up to loosen the ligaments properly and allow the ankle to achieve full range-of-motion. These exercises may include rolling the ankle both directions, pointing and flexing the foot repeatedly, writing the alphabet with the feet, and pushing up on the balls of the feet to raise the heels off the ground before releasing back to a normal standing position. Balance is also extremely important in [tag]preventing[/tag] foot injuries, and should be practiced like any other skill. To improve balance, have athletes raise one foot slightly off the ground and tuck it in to the other ankle. Practice balancing for as long as possible, changing the conditions under which it is done; i.e., have athletes balance with their arms at their sides, out straight, overhead, behind the back, etc, and have them do these [tag]drills[/tag] with their eyes both open and closed.