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Preventing Ankle Injuries

Strengthen your ankles for safer workouts.

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Ankles can be a source of angst for weekend athletes. That's because you can easily turn one running down a wide shot in tennis, playing basketball, or trying to run through first base.

High-top athletic shoes can provide extra support, and adhesive taping adds stability. But taping has its limits. A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that, after 20 minutes of intense exercise, tape gives little protection to an ankle.

At least 70 percent of ankle sprains take 6 to 12 weeks to heal, says the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. The rest take longer. The best way to protect your ankles is to strengthen them. Here are two easy exercises.

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Letter Perfect

Sit with your feet dangling above the floor. Turn your feet clockwise and counterclockwise drawing the letter O with your toes, or trace the entire alphabet with your toes.

Tippy-Toes

Stand on one foot at a time and raise yourself slowly up on your toes. Then lower yourself. Do this until you feel fatigue. Or, if you like to swim laps, do them wearing fins. Besides helping you swim faster, fins help build strength in ankles.

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