June 1, 2014

Injury Report: Ankle Sprains

Injury Report: Ankle Sprains


The bad news is: once you sprain your ankle once, you are more prone to spraining it over and over again.

The good news: you can work hard at preventing them by doing exercises including strengthening, stabilization, and balance.

Ankle Sprains can occur to one or several of the many ligaments at the ankle.  If your ankle rolls outward (inversion) then the outer ligaments may sprain (Anterior Talofibular, Calcaneofibular,and Posterior Talofibular).  If your ankle rolls inward (eversion) then the inside ligaments may sprain (Deltoid ligaments) which is less common.

ankle sprain

So what happens when you twist your ankle?

The ligaments are over-stretched and therefore stretched beyond their capabilities. So they are now less stable and develop a chronic laxity.

free fit guide back to the basics

Treatment for Ankle Sprains:

You probably have some pain, swelling, and possibly bruising. So immediately elevate your leg and ice the ankle for 15 minutes. Do some ankle pumps while on ice too. Repeat 4-5x/day.  Rest and avoid excessive walking.  If it seems very unstable, you can wrap your ankle with an ACE bandage or purchase a soft ankle brace.

Hopefully you just sprained the ligaments. If things don’t get better within the first week, you may want to consult your Doctor to rule out any tears or more serious damage. They may provide you with crutches and/or an ankle brace.

If you think it is just a sprain, then keep it wrapped/braced for a few weeks.

Then it is time to slowly begin incorporating some exercises to strength the ankle muscles after about 2 weeks when the pain has diminished.

  • Strengthen using a theraband in all 4 directions (up, down, left, right)
  • Perform Calf Raises
  • Perform Toe Raises

Once you build up strength, you can begin incorporating stabilization and balance exercises.

  • Single leg balance
  • Single leg balance while reaching to touch the ground
  • Tandem balance (one foot in front of the other)
  • Walk the line (walk a straight line with on foot in front of the other)
  • Step-ups onto a step

Once you are painfree, you can do more functional exercises that are more challenging.

  • Single leg balance on foam, pillow, or BOSU
  • Forward walking lunges
  • Heel taps (stand on a step and tap the injured heel down to the ground while balancing on the injured leg)
  • Hopping: double or single leg (trampoline if available)

Do you want a custom training program written by a physical therapist who can take into account your past injuries? Learn more about our online coaching here.

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