The ankle sprain is commonly thought of as a sports-related injury. Truth be told it’s one of the most common injuries for all ages. Ankle sprains are most frequently seen in the younger population after rolling their ankle while playing a sport. In the older population, it is a lot more common when walking or running on uneven surfaces. In the elderly, these are frequently seen to cause hip fractures which can be debilitating or even fatal.
I have personally seen it time and time again. A client comes to me and says ‘ I’ve sprained my bad ankle again’. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The general recovery process of your typical ankle sprain has the injured person walking around pain-free at 6 weeks. This includes if they do nothing at all for rehab.
The reason as physiotherapists we see so many people with recurrent ankle sprains is because people they only focus on being pain-free.
Only focusing on this aspect is often likened to drink driving. You may be able to do the task but you are playing Russian roulette before something bad happens again.
In a small proportion of the population, this is due to unfortunate circumstances. For the majority, however, this is caused by a combination of 4 things.
- Lack of range of motion
- Muscular Weakness
- Poor proprioception (balance and control)
- Lack of functional conditioning
Trying to compete at your highest level whether that be in sport or daily activities is extremely difficult with a restriction in your range of motion. This leads to compensations in other areas. Not only that its impossible to get full strength without having a full range of motion.
After any type of injury and the subsequent inactivity, there is an atrophy (decrease in muscle size and strength). Although pain may go after those first 6 weeks the strength will still be lacking if not addressed. When push comes to shove with daily and sporting activities that lack strength means a decrease in control and often reinjury.
Research has constantly shown that poor proprioception (balance and control) leads to increased injuries. Specifically, tailored balance programs are crucial in your rehabilitation and prevention following an ankle sprain.
This involves more than just standing on one foot for a few seconds. Making sure your rehabilitation reflects your life demands. If your day involves walking on uneven surfaces, running on a sports field or dodging your kid’s lego toys everyone has their own demands.
Once all of these are individually developed its crucial to start working on your functional demands in a controlled environment. Particularly with athletes this is replicating demands and building confidence in the athlete.
When this is combined not only is your confidence brimming but you have significantly decreased your risk of future ankle injury.
If you have just sprained your ankle or are looking to stop telling people you have a ‘bad ankle’ book click below to see one of our experienced staff to tailor the best plan to get the Spring Back In Your Step.