Are you finding that you are ALWAYS spraining your ankle? Have you put it down to the fact that you might have weak ankles and feel that there is nothing you can do about it? Have you considered that maybe there is a way to change this scenario?
85-90% of untreated ankle sprains will be recurrent, but that number can come down to only 35% when you treat the first occurrence!
An ankle sprain usually occurs when you roll onto the outside of your foot. There are 3 major ligaments on the outside of the ankle: with the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) the most commonly injured.
Sprains can be classified on 3 levels, according to the severity of the injury. A minor tear or simple overstretch would be a Grade I sprain. A complete rupture is a Grade III sprain. Anything in between is a Grade II sprain. You can recover up to 100% from a 1st or 2nd degree sprain, but 3rd degree sprains usually leave residual symptoms.
If you feel it is a severe injury and may have a fracture, an x-ray may be required.
If, on the other hand, you feel like you simply went over it, you can still put weight on it and limp for 5-6 steps immediately AND in the next hour or so but it hurts a bit, there's no need to waste time going to the hospital. Instead, go home (avoid walking on it if possible), and apply ice to the painful area for a good 15 minutes.
Do so every 2 hours for the first 24 hours. This will limit the extent of the damage by keeping the swelling down.
In between ice applications, use the rest of the RICE principle: Relative Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. You can also do some pumping exercises by continuously bending and extending your toes, which are especially useful when the foot is elevated.
Use a compression bandage. Always start it from your toes and work your way up (it will push the fluid away from your ankle and towards your heart, the main pump). It should be tight enough to stop the fluid from going down into your ankle, but not so tight that your foot falls off (if your toes turn blue, loosen up a bit!). Take it off at night, but put it back on first thing in the morning.
Always seek the advice of a physiotherapist as soon as possible to speed up the rehabilitation process, even for seemingly simple sprains. This is imperative!
In the event that all of the above is clear, the game is not over yet, you still have some serious work to do! Keep up the RICE regimen for another 2 days or until the swelling is about 75% gone.
The battle still isn’t won. Your ligament will take up to 3-4 weeks to heal completely, so this means be careful! During this period of healing you will now need to exercise it a bit:
3. Proprioception/balance/stability (the most important part of the rehab!)
These exercises will help you make a full recovery and will also help to prevent recurrence.
The purpose of rehab is to train your ligaments and stabilising muscles to react fast again, making it the most important part of your rehabilitation. Ligaments control part of your balance by sending messages to your muscles (via the brain), telling them how to react to maintain your balance or to prevent excessive movement.
After a sprain, your ligaments need to be retrained. A simple way of doing so is to stand on your affected leg and try to hold your balance. You will probably notice at first that your injured foot is much more wobbly. This will get better as you practice it.
When you get better at it (no more sway or only very little), you want to make it more challenging and work your way back to sports, activities, etc. Different ways of increasing the challenge include using a softer and more unstable surface ,or by closing your eyes.
After you master this last challenge, you are ready for the last challenge: jumping and trying to land on your foot as stable as possible – no wobble accepted!
You are only ready to go back to your sport when you can land a jump on your affected leg with no sway, no pain, and a smile on your face!
Give us a call or shoot us an email and let us help you get back from your ankle injury and help you MOVE WELL and FEEL GREAT!