Prevention of Ankle Sprains/Rolling A simple way to develop strength, balance and coordination is to add one-legged squats to your training programs. The ability to perform this simple exercise easily and gracefully will develop your stability and core strength and also help you prevent injury, and improve your sports performance. To begin adding this exercise to your routine you should start slowly and build up. You may find initially that you can not control your body, your ankle begins to wobble, your knee rotates, and your upper body sways. You may find your balance is not what you thought. If this is the case, you may want to begin with simple one leg balancing until you can stand on one leg for 30 seconds. While performing this exercise, you will be developing the smaller stabilizing muscles. After several sessions, you will find your balance improves tremendously. Now it's time to begin one-legged squats to build strength. How to perform a one legged-squat Begin while in front of a mirror (over time you can leave the mirror behind). Stand on one leg with foot pointing straight ahead and knee slightly bent. Keep your weight centered over the ball of the foot. Keep your upper body erect with your head facing forward. Tuck your pelvis under and roll your shoulder blades back (don't round your shoulders). Keeping the knee centered over the ball of the foot, lower into a squat position. Start with shallow squats. Once you develop your strength, coordination, and balance, you can add hand weights, or hold a medicine ball to build additional strength. Repeat 3 sets of ten squats on each leg. Over time, consider performing the squat on an unstable or smaller surface such as a mini trampoline or balance beam. The one-leg squat exercise is a simple, fun and useful addition to any weight training routine. Try it and see! Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries any athlete will experience. It may be difficult to avoid that missed step, uneven ground, or trip off the curb, but if you've practiced one simple exercise, you may walk away without a serious injury. Sprained ankles, while sometimes due to a lack of lower limb strength, endurance or flexibility, are often caused by a lack of balance, or proprioception, to be exact. The term proprioception refers to a sense of joint position. Proprioception training is highly common in rehabilitation of injured athletes, but it can just as easily be used to prevent injury. Even a strong ankle can sprain when running on uneven ground if the runner hasn’t trained the neuromuscular system to react appropriately. Slight deviations in terrain require slight adjustments of balance to avoid injury. So you’re not a runner. Why should you care about balance? Well, for starters, it’s the basic skill needed in practically every sport. From soccer to tennis to rock climbing, changing your center of gravity to match your moves is the key to efficiency in sport. The technical term is agility. Agility is what allows us to move gracefully, wasting little motion. It allows our joints to move through the full range of motion smoothly and confidently. While the start of hiking season might require that your entire attention remain focused on the trail to avoid falling, after several weeks for hiking, you may notice that you are more confident in your ability to adjust to the terrain by foot feel alone, and you need to pay less attention to the trail. In this way you increase your kinesthetic coordination, and in turn your balance improves. Kinesthetic awareness, or the ability to know where your body parts are in 3-dimensional space, is required for every movement we make. So it's not surprising that balance can be learned, challenged, and improved. Balance training aids come in a variety of forms, although you can just as easily improve your balance with little or none of the fancy stuff. We can train our bodies to improve the proprioception within the muscles, just by creating balance challenges for ourselves. Here's an easy exercise you can try now: The One leg Squat and Reach. Stand on one foot. Next, reach forward and touch the ground or a small object in front of you and stand up straight again. You can also do partner exercise -- use a medicine ball and play a game of catch while balancing on one foot.