Almost everyone knows the pain of an ankle sprain. The unexpected trip off a step, halfway through a run, or a sharp pivot on the sports field, it can be sudden and definitely not pleasant. In this blog, Lawrence Lin, Physiotherapist from Excel, goes through what he says and does for the common ankle sprain.
What actually happens?
Majority of ankle sprains are lateral sprains, meaning you tear soft tissue structures on the outside of the ankle (usually the ligaments: ATFL and CFL). Tear of ligaments occur when your ankle goes beyond its usual range of motion. In more severe cases, there may be a fracture which can be diagnosed with an x-ray. Otherwise, there will be internal bleeding, inflammatory processes, pain, stiffness, swelling, muscle inhibition, and reduction in proprioception. In short, it is going to hurt but fortunately, just for a little while.
Importance of rehabilitation and strengthening the ankle
Spraining your ankle will force you to limp or not bear weight in the short term in an effort to reduce pain and offload the ankle. In the long term though, once your pain and injury settles down, it can lead to dysfunctional movement and residual strength and balance deficits which you might not be aware of. Having a weaker ankle can lead to compensatory movements which will lead to more stress on other joints. That is why neuromuscular training and strengthening is key to having healthy ankles which will support your whole lower limb and therefore your body.
Treatment and physiotherapy
Initial management of the acute injury is very important. Chris, one of our senior physiotherapists at Excel Physiotherapy, has written a great article on the P.O.L.I.C.E Principle to help you get over the acute phase of your injury. From this article, you will see that ice is vital for the acute ankle sprain as it helps to numb the ankle and tricks the brain to thinking that there is not too much pain and therefore allow the ankle to move through its normal range of movement.
Seeing a physiotherapist even on the day of the ankle sprain will get you back on your feet faster. Depending on your case, we will help to educate you on what will or won’t be beneficial for your ankle and use techniques, such as soft tissue massage, joint mobilisation, dry needling, taping, and bracing to help you get over the initial hump of pain.
After the acute phase, as mentioned before, neuromuscular training and strengthening exercises will be the key to rehabilitating your ankle. Here are just some:
1. Single leg stance with or without perturbation
2. Calf raises over step
3. Calf stretching
It is important to note that these exercises are not a one-size-fits-all, as each injury and person is different. To address your specific injury, you may book online with one of our physiotherapists for a full assessment, appropriate treatment, and exercise program.