I'm a high school football coach. We seem to have a high number of ankle sprains putting our players on the bench. Is this typical? What can we do about it?

Studies show that ankle injuries in sports accounts for 10 to 30 percent of all athletic injuries. Basketball players seem to have the highest incidence of ankle sprains when compared with soccer and football players. Basketball players are also more likely to resprain their ankles.

Physical therapists and athletic trainers are studying the problem. They are looking for risk factors for ankle sprains. Once these are identified, then training can be geared toward preventing ankle injuries.

Several studies using force plate technology have been able to show that decreased standing balance is linked with ankle sprains. Being overweight is a risk factor for male athletes. Overweight athletes who have sprained their ankles at least once before have an even greater risk of reinjury. A high body mass index (BMI) in football linemen has been linked with an increased risk of leg injuries.

For now it looks like improving one-legged standing balance can make a difference. Weight loss in football players may reduce ankle injuries but could increase injury to other parts of the body. More study is needed on this topic.