Preventing sprains and strains 

To help prevent sprains and strains, you should warm up properly before exercising and wear suitable footwear. Conditioning and strengthening exercises can also help. 

Strengthening and conditioning

Including regular stretching and strengthening exercises as part of an overall physical conditioning programme can reduce your risk of sprains and strains by helping your joints stay strong and flexible.

If you're prone to sprains and strains, taping, strapping or wrapping your knees, ankles, wrists or elbows can help while you're recovering from injury and when you first get back into regular activities.

But for most people, taping, strapping or wrapping should only be a short-term protective measure. You can protect your joints in the long-term by strengthening and conditioning the muscles around them.

Read more about improving your strength and flexibility.

Wearing appropriate footwear

Always wear footwear that supports and protects your feet and ankles, whether you're at work, home or doing sport.

Also, make sure your footwear is appropriate to the type of activity you're doing, and that all of your shoes are in good condition. For example, avoid wearing shoes with a worn heel on one side because they may increase your risk of injury.

If you wear high-heeled shoes, you're more likely to sprain your ankle than if you wear flat shoes.

Read more about choosing sports shoes.

General advice

Follow the advice below to help prevent sprains and strains.

  • Warm up properly before you exercise and cool down properly afterwards.
  • Don't exercise or play sports when you're tired.
  • Take precautions against falling  keep stairs, walkways, gardens and driveways free of clutter, and in winter put sand or salt on icy spots outside your home.
  • Where possible, avoid running or walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet to help keep your joints and muscles strong.

Read more about how to warm up properly before you exercise and how to stretch after exercising.

Page last reviewed: 06/03/2016

Next review due: 01/03/2019