What is a sprained ankle?
A typical ankle sprain or 'inversion ankle sprain' is when you roll your ankle inwards, stretching and hurting the ligaments on the outside of your ankle joint. You can also roll the other way and hurt the ligaments on the inside of your ankle, however this is a bit less common.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sporting injuries, and so it is important to know what to do if you injure yourself!
Most of the time with an ankle sprain, you put some ice on, rest for a couple of days, and then the pain goes away, so it's all good! Right?
Well, most of the time, if you roll your ankle, there will be some level of long lasting damage to the ligaments in the ankle. So how do you prevent this?
How do i rehab my ankle?
Without doing specific, targeted rehab exercises for your ankle post injury, the ligaments can become weak and stretched, making it much more likely that you roll your ankle again. As well as leaving long lasting swelling and scar tissue around the ankle ligaments.
This means that to get long term success and keep yourself from getting injured again, you need to work on strengthening the muscles in the ankle after they get damaged.
Ankle rehab exercises are a long term approach, meaning you need to do them for longer than it takes for just the pain to go away. This is what keeps our muscles and ligaments strong to prevent re-injury!
So even if there is no pain any more, it is important to continue with your strength and proprioceptive exercises.
If you read our blog from a couple of weeks ago, then you will be familiar with the following exercises:
Alphabet Tracing: while you are sitting/laying down, you can trace the letters of the alphabet with your feet. You can choose upper or lower case! This exercise is beneficial because it puts your ankles (and feet) through a full range of motion, and prepares you for walking. --> you can even trace out words with your feet to make it more interesting.
Single Leg Balance: Standing on the floor with one leg (or a pillow if you're really steady!) helps to increase the strength of your feet as a whole, and is particularly indicated for ankle rehabilitation and strengthening as the tendons and ligaments are put through small stabilisation movements when you balance on a single leg, and this helps to increase strength and proprioception.
High Knee Marching / Hopping: High knee marching is effective when slowly and safely completed. This exercise focusses on safe ground contact and stability of the ankle when the foot hits the ground. This exercise involves bringing the knees up like a soldier marching, and slowly placing the feet back on the ground.
Once you are proficient and strong doing the above, your Podiatrist can work with you to add new, more challenging exercises, such as exercise resistance band movements, or even adding weights to make the above exercises more difficult again.
What happens if i don't do the rehab...
As mentioned above, rehab for sports injuries is crucial. If you don't rehab consistently and correctly, then you are putting yourself at increased risk of doing the same injury again.
And probably again after that too.
Keeping muscles and ligaments strong and healthy, especially after they get damaged, should be an essential ingredient in your exercise recipe, along with consistent training, using the correct gear, and gradually increasing workloads.
These things all done correctly are what help athletes and sports players alike perform to the best of their ability - for the long term.
Studies have shown that in elite athletes who had sprained their lateral ankle, even with doing the correct rehab, recurrence rate of the injury was up to 29% in the following year. This number can get much higher in those who don't do the correct rehab!
What else can a podiatrist do to help?
As well as giving you a provisional diagnosis, sending you for bulk-billed medical imaging, and prescribing you a personalised exercise plan, we can also do the following:
Laser Therapy to reduce inflammation
Therapeutic Ultrasound to increase blood flow and circulation
Strapping/Taping/Bracing the ankle to give it a chance to recover
Rehab Exercises to prevent injury from recurring
Interferential machine to help assist rehab if necessary
We also have ankle compression sleeves and natural, anti-inflammatory gels in store - perfect for the acute stage of injury!
These are all great additions to a treatment pathway, that will help aid your recovery, and get you back to sport as quickly as possible. Unfortunately the one thing we can't do for you is your exercises, that's all up to you!
If you have any questions at all about your calves, we are more than happy to answer them at Foot Body Sole! Our Footwear Specialists and Podiatrists can also recommend shoes! Give us a call on 1800 778 316 or visit us in store in Albert Park.