Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in basketball athletes of all ages. And all too often, many players have to sit most of the season out depending on how severe the injury.  This is a situation no athlete and their parents, understandably, want to face.

>Related: The Pressure to Win: Sports and Your Child’s Mental Health

Connecticut Children’s Sports Physical Therapy team discusses how certain ankle injuries happen, and three exercises to prevent them all together…

Would you like to schedule an appointment with Sports Medicine?

How do ankle sprains happen during a basketball game?

When we talk to athletes, we learn that most of the time they had landed awkwardly from a rebound or improperly repositioned their foot when changing direction…

What are the most common type of ankle injuries in basketball players?

Inversion ankle injuries are the most common; they’re also called inversion ankle sprains or lateral ankle sprains. This type of sprain happens mainly from running—which is what basketball players spend most of their time doing.    

An inversion ankle sprain happens when the ankle tilts toward the inside of the foot, putting the injury on the outside of the ankle and three surrounding ligaments that make up the outer foot: the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), calcaneal fibular ligament CFL) and posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL).

Ankle joint diagram

How long does it take for an inversion ankle sprain to heal?

It depends on how badly your athlete is injured. Usually, they can return to the court anywhere between 3 and 12 weeks.

How can I help my basketball player prevent ankle injuries all together?

We’re glad you asked because Connecticut Children’s sports physical therapists specialize in treating and preventing injuries! We always tell our patients to “train their ankles” because mobility, flexibility and stability are the name of the game.

Here are three exercises to train ankles for an injury-free basketball season:

1. Ankle Rocks

Exercise Tips:

  • Perform 1-2 sets of 15-20 repetitions per side
  • Goal of exercise: move foot as far back from wall as possible while being able to touch knee to wall while maintaining heel contact through exercise
2. Ankle Swings

Exercise Tips:

  • Perform 1-2 sets of 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Goal of exercise: Keep foot flat with toes pointing straight ahead. Using the contralateral limb, swing side to side to carry rotational momentum through the foot on the ground
3. Bent Knee Balance

Exercise Tips:

  • Perform 1-2 sets of 20-30 seconds
  • Goal of Exercise: Maintain whole foot contact with the ground and flex the ankle, knee and hip.

All of these exercises can be done in just five minutes or less. Start before the season begins and continue throughout the entire season. Good luck!  

You might also like: