The Illinois Athletic Trainers Association (IATA) and physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR), concerned by the rising number of ankle injuries in athletes of all ages, have created a prevention program to help stop ankle injuries from occurring.

While most common ankle injuries for athletes are usually sprains or fractures, there have been a rising number of patients with Achilles injuries, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Achilles is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It can become painful after overuse and tear from too much force.

MOR foot and ankle surgeons reported a nearly 300 percent increase in Achilles patients over a 10-year period (from 2004 through 2013).

Because of this, MOR physicians, who treat many competitive and professional athletes, joined forces with the IATA to launch “Ankles for Life,” a public awareness program to provide athletes of all ages the tools to incorporate ankle injury prevention tactics into their workout and warm-up routines.

“Feet and ankles bear the burden of weight for the whole body and with so many athletes playing all year round, the ankle gets a lot of wear and tear and this can result in Achilles injuries,” said Dr. Simon Lee, MOR foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon.

Although Achilles tears and ruptures can occur in all age groups, Dr. Lee admits the fastest growing patient population is active people between age 30 and 50.

Dr. George Holmes, director of the MOR Foot and Ankle Section, agreed. “The fastest growing group seems to be the middle age weekend warriors who are staying active longer and doing more aggressive activities on weekends.”

Matt Munjoy, MHA, ATC, IATA president, admitted that weekend warriors often don’t do enough to prevent ankle injuries.  “They don’t take the time to stretch or strengthen the tendons surrounding the ankle.”

To combat ankle overuse, MOR physicians and IATA members recommend that athletes cross train, use proper techniques, get adequate rest after a workout and perform ankle balance, stretching and strengthening exercises. Examples can be found at  The website also includes information on how to order complimentary gym bag tags with ankle injury prevention tips.