Lateral ankle sprains are a common injury in sports that involve change in direction or jumping and landing. Spend enough time around rugby, soccer, volleyball, handball and basketball games and you will see plenty of strapping tape and ankle braces going around!
“I rolled my ankle…”
The typical mechanism is having your ankle sudden turn in (inversion, where the outside of the ankle is stretched out).
This can happen due to poor foot placement when your foot makes contact with the ground, with the muscles unable to dynamically control the joint stability.
Stepping on unexpected surfaces, uneven ground, or another players foot are all other common ways that people can sprain their ankle.
“What have I done?”…
Lots of structures could be injured with what may seem like a straight forward ankle sprain.
Sports physiotherapists will be able to assist with a specific diagnosis, to ensure you get started on the most appropriate management plan.
Potential structures injured can include
- Lateral Ligaments (ATFL + CFL)
- Bifurcate ligament
- Peroneal tendon strain
- Avulsion fractures of the Anterior process of calcaneus, or the base of 5th
Control the swelling
- Ice and Compression- use Zone 34’s Game Ready or Recovery Boots!
- Elevate when sitting or lying
- Use ankle taping with a U Foam to compress around the malleolus ( inside and outside ankle bones)
Restore range of motion
- Reduce the swelling (so act on it early!)
- Calf Stretches
- Ankle joint mobilisations
- Active exercises that can be provided by our physiotherapists.
- Calf raises (progress from 2 to 1 leg, adding range and external loads)
- Target peroneal (eversion) and tib posterior (inversion) strength if needed
- Work the butt – altered gait and movement patterns can lead to gluteal weakness.
Balance/proprioception > the key to preventing future injuries
- Single leg balance – try turning your head, kicking one leg out against elastic, or catching a ball
- Tandem toe walks forwards, backwards, sideways
- Practice on unstable surfaces (e.g. BOSU, Wobble board, foam, trampolines)
- Landing practice – jumping or hopping from various heights and directions.
PREVENT FUTURE SPRAINS
- There is evidence to show lateral ankle sprains have an 80% chance of recurrence in the first year if not treated
- Multiple ankle sprains lead to chronic ankle instability and chronic pain
- Alongside the strength and proprioception rehabilitation, ankle taping or bracing have been shown to be effective ways to reduce the likelihood of injuries.
So if you have sprained you ankle, act on it early. Effective early management will help you return to activity sooner, and a targeted rehabilitation program is the cornerstone of minimising the risk of future ankle injury.
Live in the Inner west? Click on Book Now and come to Zone 34 in Lewisham to get back in the game.