Avoid uneven ground. Cobblestone pathways, bumpy hillsides and shifting sand can wreak havoc on ankles affected by arthritis that have a limited range of motion. Stepping on uneven ground is a common cause of ankle sprain. If all else fails – for example, while on vacation in an historic town with hilly terrain – follow the footwear rules above.

Sit smart. Avoid sitting with your feet crossed behind you and pointed down. This puts pressure on your toes that can lead to ankle stiffness and soreness.

“The best way to sit at a desk is to have your feet flat. If your heels don’t touch the ground, consider a foot rest,” says Suzanne Hawson, a physical therapist with University Foot and Ankle Institute in Valencia, Calif.

Condition your ankles. Strengthening your peroneal muscles – the muscles in your shin that support your ankles – through resistance band exercises will keep your ankles stable and injury free. Towel crunches with your feet also can help build strength and stability, says Hawson. Place a towel under your foot and scrunch the towel under your toes.

“Many of the muscles that cross the ankle joint have insertions in the foot. Stronger foot muscles help to support the ankle joint,” she says.

To increase flexibility and range of motion, Hawson suggests simple calf stretches against a wall, or, in a seated position, moving your ankle to write out the letters of the alphabet using your big toe as the tip of the “pen,” and doing 10 repetitions of ankle circles in both directions.

Switch sports. To preserve ankle health, avoid high-impact sports, such as running, or sports that require cutting from side to side, such as basketball, tennis and soccer. Beware the seemingly benign golf. (Most golf courses aren’t flat).

“If you hit a sand trap, you have to climb in and out and that’s when you are most likely to twist your ankle,” says Dr. Nunley, who advises golfers to wear a stirrup brace for added support.

Choose low-impact sports, such as biking, swimming or other aquatic exercises. “The buoyancy of the water helps to de-weight the ankle and allows the muscles to get strong without stressing the ankle joint,” says Hawson, whose specialty is sports rehabilitation. Whatever sport, stretch your ankles properly before and after.

Watch your weight. Extra weight puts added pressure on ankle joints. “Even people who are moderately overweight can suffer the consequences of a more rapid progression of their arthritis,” says Jensen. Above all, stay active to maintain a healthy weight and to keep your ankles strong and flexible.