One of the most common sporting injuries is ankle sprains. These are most likely to affect the ligaments on the outside of the foot. Which is most commonly caused when the ankle rolls outwards and the foot turns inwards.
These ligaments help to support the ankle joint, connecting the bones together so therefore helps with the stability of the joint.
Ligament sprains range from a stretch to small tear to a full rupture.
Risk factors of ankle sprains:
- Increased joint mobility
- Reduced flexibility of the joint and surrounding muscles
- Previous or existing ankle injuries
- Sudden change of direction
- Poor balance and stability
How to recognise an ankle sprain:
- Tender to touch
- Swelling and bruising
- Painful to walk and put weight through that foot.
- Full rupture – unable to out any weight on the foot, as the ankle gives way.
- Pain on the outside of the ankle
- Loss of balance
Rest –to prevent further injury to the ankle. Promotes healing process
Ice –provides short-term pain relief and limits blood flow to the area to reduce swelling. 15 minutes on 15 minutes off. Never apply directly to skin always wrap in a cloth.
Compression –limits the swelling and some people experience pain relief.
Elevation –this helps the swelling to drain from the area. Most effective way is to lie down and prop the ankle on 1-2 pillows.
Repeat this for 24-48 hours after the injury.
Ankle sprains generally take between 6-8 weeks to heal. Some more severe sprains can take longer to heal, some can take up to 12 weeks.
Two key aspects of recovery are to improve strength and proprioception.
By using a variety of different exercises aid – flexibility, stretching, balance, strength and specific exercises.
Strength – working on muscles in the ankle, foot, calf, knee and hip. Allowing greater stability and control of the ankle.
Start with your heels down as far as possible in a good stretch. Keep your knees straight and stiff but not locked. Rise onto the balls of your feet and squeeze, moving only at the ankles. Do this 10 reps, twice.
While sitting down, place a dish towel or hand towel flat on the floor. Try to scrunch up the entire towel under your foot by just using your toes. Do 10 reps, twice daily.
Proprioception – this is your body knowing where it is in time and space, without having to look at it. E.g. – if you stand on uneven ground your body has an awareness and will be able to adjust and correct your foot positioning so you don’t fall or injure yourself.
Ankle injuries weaken this ability and you are more prone to re-injuring your ankle as it has lost its ability to correct itself.
Balancing on one leg
Stand on one leg hold on to something for balance to start with and do not allow your foot/ankle to wobble. Do this only for 30 seconds.
Then progress to not holding something for balance and do not allow your foot/ankle to wobble. You can increase the time as you get better up to 2 minutes.
Writing the alphabet with your foot
Draw every letter of the alphabet with your foot, focusing on just the foot moving not your leg or knee
- Always warm up before any exercise
- Choose shoes that fit your foot type specifically + replace regularly
- Be aware of running on uneven terrain
- Listen to your body