Why Am I So Prone to Ankle Injury?

A common injury to both athletes and non-athletes is an ankle sprain. This is usually caused by landed on an uneven surface which causes the ankle to twist, stretching or tearing the ligaments that hold the foot in place. The most common form of an ankle sprain is when the foot turns in, damaging the lateral (or side) ligaments. Medial ligament sprains are rare and usually occur with a fracture to the tibia caused by the foot turning out.

There are 3 grades of severity for ankle sprains:
Grade 1

  • Some stretching or minor tearing of the ankle ligaments most likely lateral
  • Mild pain
  • Mild swelling around the bone on the outside of the ankle
  • Some joint stiffness or difficulty walking or running

Grade 2

  • Moderate tearing of the ligament fibers
  • Moderate to severe pain and difficulty walking
  • Swelling and stiffness in ankle joint
  • Minor bruising

Grade 3

  • Total rupture of ligament
  • Complete instability of joint
  • Severe pain
  • Severe swelling
  • Extensive bruising

The recovery from a sprained ankle can be quick or can last months depending on the grade of sprain and your active involvement in rehabbing the injured area. Your best bet for assisting with a quick recovery time is to initially use R.I.C.E.

Rest the injury to reduce the risk of further injuring the ankle. Some therapists advocate partial weight-bearing as soon as tolerated to help rehabilitation time.

Ice will reduce the swelling and increase circulation to the injured area. Place ice on the ankle first thing following the injury for 15 min. Repeat this every 2 hours.

Compression will also assist with reducing swelling and bleeding.

Elevation uses gravity to help reduce bleeding and inflammation by allowing the blood to flaw away from the injured site.

The next step in recovery is to do rehab on your ankle working on stretching and strengthening those injured muscles, tendons and ligaments. The most important part of rehabilitation of an ankle injury is range of motion. Great exercises include making circles with your feet or spelling your ABC’s in capital letters with your feet. Make sure you have something close to you for balance and keep your core engaged. The calf muscle usually tightens following an ankle injury for protection so gentle stretching will aid in a faster recovery time. Make sure you stretch both the Gastrocnemius (large calf muscle) and the Soleus (smaller calf muscle that attaches below the knee).

Stretch should be felt throughout the whole calf muscle.

Stretch should be felt in the lower part of the leg closer to your heel.

Stability and core exercises are also an important aspect to the rehabilitation and strengthening of an ankle injury. Such devices as the Bosu and wobble boards place the ankle in a “controlled chaos” which trains the body how to react to situations that may damage the ankle. These tools will strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the ankle and should be incorporated into any exercise routine for someone who has suffered this kind of injury.

What ever grade ankle sprain you have; Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation are the first tools to a rapid recovery. After that a good rehab program involving range of motion and strengthening, perhaps utilizing a Bosu/wabble board, should be your second step. Ankle sprains can be a continuous problem and should be addressed sooner rather than later. If you would like more information on ankle rehab or strengthening please contact Thomas Eagen.

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