Updated: Aug 27, 2019
An ankle sprain occurs when one or more ligaments—fibrous bands of tissue that provide stability to the joint—are stretched or torn from excessive force such as a sudden twisting during sports, stepping on an uneven surface, or a blow to the ankle.
Ankle sprains are an incredibly common problem for anyone who walks, runs or jumps. This is particularly true for athletes who do all three. Since the problem is so common and may cause some serious difficulties in performance there is good curiosity about reducing the incidence of those injuries. There are various thoroughly tested methods which do that job very well. The 3 best researched and most reputable are exercises, taping and ankle braces. Some also support the idea that warm-up and stretches before physical exercise can reduce the likelihood an ankle sprain will happen.
We have all experienced that moment when we land awkwardly and feel our ankle roll. If we are lucky, a few hops and a little shake out later and we continue on. For those that end up with swelling, bruising, tissue damage or a fracture, the recovery and rehabilitation is more challenging.
What to do if you sprain your ankle
First of all let’s remember the basic ankle sprain treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Referral
Imaging such as x-ray, ultrasound or MRI can assist in determining how bad your ankle is injured. A bad ankle sprain may require a brace, cast or surgery.
Secondly, as soon as possible you need to re-strengthen your ankle. This involves a gradual return to loading, balance, agility, jumping and landing exercises.
Why worry about your ankle
Even mild ankle sprains can result in long term ankle instability, repeated sprains and ankle arthritis, and we don’t want this!
How we can help
If you want to prevent or recover from an ankle sprain, then it is best to start straight away.
We need to look at your current ankle movement, strength and balance. We can use our Body-tech gait machine to assess your walking, foot pressure and balance.
Laser therapy, acupuncture or ultrasound are local therapy which may speed up your recovery by assisting with soft tissue healing.
We can fit you with a Bioskin or ASO ankle brace if needed.
Sometimes orthotics are necessary for long term control of your foot position (to stop you rolling in or out too much!)
Don’t ignore an ankle sprain! A high percentage of ankle sprains become a chronic problem.
Get a professional opinion and recover properly. On average it will take 6-8 weeks to recover from an ankle sprain, but it can bother you for a lifetime if you don’t take care of it.
While there is a great deal support for warm-up stopping muscle strain it is doubtful how helpful stretches is before an action. There is no proof to indicate that warm-up and stretches can prevent ankle sprains. One study contained over 1, 500 military recruits have been randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The intervention group experienced an additional 20 minutes of pre exercise stretches for six leg groups of muscles. Neither group demonstrated a significant difference in the incidence of ankle sprains. Others have theorized that more padding in the shoe would reduce ankle sprains. There is really evidence to show that more padding in the shoe increase the possible risk of ankle sprains.
One study was performed of over 10,000 recreational/elite basketball elite to discover some ankle sprain risk factors. They observed a high consistency of players wearing shoes with air cushion in the heel portion. From this research they determine why these air cushions improve the probability of an ankle sprain. The same can be true for shoes with energy return systems like Nike Shox or of padding insoles. The indisputable fact behind this is the fact that if people had more info about threat factors and ankle sprain injuries, it might reduce their risk of suffering one of those injuries.
One study studied two groups after 1, 000 hours of running. One group had hours of instruction about workouts and ankle sprains. Towards the end of the study there is no significant difference in the number of ankle sprains in each group. When trying to restrict exposure to ankle sprains it’s significant to be familiar with the facts which will protect you from injury. A large part of that’s to differentiate between methods that work and do not work. Remember, ankle taping, braces and specialised exercises are the best bet for ankle sprain prevention.