The ankle is a part of the body we often pay little attention to until we damage it. Basketballers, netballers, and people playing sports involving a lot of jumping, are particularly prone to ankle injuries. However, the ankle can also easily be damaged when walking or running over uneven surfaces.
The most common form of ankle injury is a sprained ankle – usually a sprain to the ligaments on the outside or lateral aspect of the ankle.
When the ligaments on the side of the ankle become overstretched, torn or even ruptured, the ankle will swell, become very painful and will be difficult to walk on. Strength and mobility of the ankle, walking pattern and balance are all affected and will need to be rehabilitated to fully recover from the injury.
Elevation, compression and ice
The first line of treatment involves elevation, compression and ice to help control the swelling. It is also helpful to do some very simple movements of the ankle such as making small circles with the foot to keep some movement and help the calf muscles work to reduce the swelling.
Proactive ankle rehabilitation, weeks one and two
The next line of treatment within the first 1-2 weeks of the injury should include the following:
- Exercises to help the muscles around the ankle and the affected leg become stronger and regain their flexibility.
- Taping or a brace to give support to the ankle. This also helps with balance because it sends signals back to the brain about the position of your foot and ankle. These signals are affected by an injury to the ankle.
- Retraining your walking pattern so other body parts (such as your knees or back) don’t start to hurt because you are walking weirdly!
- Balance retraining. This is one part of rehab that people will often get slack about because their ankle feels so much better. However, if this area is neglected there is a good chance you will re-sprain the ankle again. So make sure you stick at it and do your balance exercises.
Try these ankle rehabilitation tips and let me know how you go, Deb.