Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries, accounting for between 10% to 28% of all injuries that occur during athletic practice or play. Prior ankle injury and higher body weight may influence a teen athlete's risk of sprain, say researchers from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
A group of 169 high school athletes involved in football, men's basketball, men's soccer, women's gymnastics, women's basketball, and women's soccer took part in this 2-year study. Before each sports season began, the teens balanced on a tilted wooden board so researchers could measure muscle strength in their hips and legs. The researchers also recorded details such as the athletes' height and weight, their history of previous ankle sprains, their ability to relax their ligaments, and whether they used ankle tape or braces.
Over the course of two sports seasons, the athletes experienced 20 ankle sprains that didn't involve contact with other players. An athlete's balancing strength in the hips and legs did not influence his or her risk of injury. However, male athletes who had a history of ankle sprain were more likely to sprain them again.
Weight was also associated with the risk of injury for male athletes; guys who had a higher body mass index also had an increased risk of ankle sprain. Having a previous risk of ankle injury and a higher body mass index increased a male athlete's risk of ankle sprains to more than nine times that of normal-weight athletes with no prior history of ankle sprain.
What This Means to You. Excess body weight and a history of injuries may increase a teen athlete's risk of ankle sprains, according to the results of this study. Previous studies have indicated that being overweight may make it harder for children and teens with ankle problems to heal after injury. If your teen is overweight and has experienced an ankle injury, talk to your child's doctor about how to avoid future injury and the best ways for your teen to stay active and healthy, including weight management recommendations.
Source: Malachy P. McHugh, PhD; Timothy F. Tyler, PT, ATC; Danielle T. Tetro, MD; Michael J. Mullaney, MPT, and Stephen J. Nicholas, MD; American Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2006.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2006