England's James Willstrop after an ankle injury sustained during the 2010 Canary Wharf Classic
Pre-season With SquashXtra: No more glass ankles
With the new squash season approaching, we’ve delved into the SquashXtra archives to bring you some of the best advice and tips to have graced our pages in the past few years to help you get into prime condition ahead of the new campaign.
From technique tips to injury advice, SquashXtra has you covered.
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One of the most commonly reported lower limb injuries is an ankle sprain. squash players are particularly vulnerable, with the rapid change in direction required during a squash game or training regime increasing the likelihood of such an injury.
We’ve all “gone over” on our ankle – but what does this actually mean? “Going over” on your ankle is where the foot turns inwards and stresses the ligaments at the outside of the ankle joint. The severity of a sprain ranges from grade 1-3 and correlates to the extent of the damage to the ligament.
Once an ankle has been sprained, the risk of further re-injury to that area is greatly increased: the revolving door effect. The most important stage of longer-term rehabilitation for the ankle, which can often be overlooked, is the proprioception stage, in which the “proprioceptive feedback mechanism” is retrained. This rehabilitation stage is thought to decrease the risk of ankle re-injury by more than 50%, and reduce the chances of an injury occurring in the first place. So what is proprioception? There are many confusing definitions out there but, put simply, it is your body’s own way of knowing where a joint is at any given time or position – in this case, your ankle. In particular, your ligaments play an important role in telling your brain what position your foot is in. The feedback mechanism involves the communication between your joint and your brain.
A simple way of testing this for your ankle is to stand on one leg with your eyes open and then again with your eyes shut. Most people find it more difficult to balance on one leg with their eyes shut as this relies on feedback between your ankle and foot joints and your brain (without any help from your eyes!).
The exercises listed are appropriate for improving strength and proprioception at the ankle and should supplement your normal training regime. It is important to only attempt the exercises if it is not painful to weight-bear, and the ankle has no increased stiffness or swelling. If you are concerned about your ankle, or any other injury, further advice and assessment should be sought from a Physiotherapist.
Start by standing on one leg with your eyes open. For each exercise, try to maintain good balance for 30 seconds consistently before progressing. This exercise, along with progression one and two, can be made more difficult by closing your eyes.
PROGRESSIONONE: Bend and straighten your weight-bearing knee slowly (to 45 degrees maximum) PROGRESSIONTWO: Slowly raise the heel of the weight-bearing foot up and lower back down PROGRESSIONTHREE: Try throwing and catching a squash ball from side to side whilst maintaining the balance PROGRESSIONFOUR: Hit the squash ball against the wall (or volley to a training partner)
All of the first exercises can be completed on a wobble board or wobble cushion. TIP: If you do not have access to any wobble apparatus, you can always use a couple of cushions or a towel over some old squash balls.
Walk with one foot directly in front of the other in a straight line, with either a ball in your hands, or your racket. Try walking forwards and backwards, eyes open, then eyes shut. To make things a little more unpredictable, get a training partner to throw/catch a squash ball with you. TIP: The squash court service line is a useful marker.
'The Revolving Door of Sports Injuries' as featured in SquashXtra Issue 05
The new issue of SquashXtra is out now and you can find exclusive interviews with the likes of Ramy Ashour and Nouran Gohar, coaching tips from the legendary Jonah Barrington, comprehensive ball reviews, a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes at SQUASHTV and much, much more.
The PSA World Tour's biggest-ever season is just around the corner with more than 450 live games on SQUASHTV. To celebrate we’re offering you a great deal – 50% off your first three months’ SQUASHTV subscription. Just use code 50for3 FINDOUTMORE