Injury Prevention for Ankles
Ankle sprains happen to people of all ages it is a very common injury usually caused when the ankle is forced to stretch and bend beyond its normal range of movement. This weakens the ligaments and soft tissues that holds the ankle and foot bones. They are often immediately and severely painful and incapacitating. If improperly treated, they can develop into a chronic problem. If treated quickly and properly, however, ankle sprains can heal well, allowing safe return to activity.
Some ankle sprains are much worse than others. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved. Ankle sprains are not the same as strains, which affect muscles rather than ligaments.
Causes of Ankle Sprain
- A fall that causes your ankle to twist
- Landing awkwardly on your foot after jumping or pivoting
- Walking or exercising on an uneven surface
- Another person stepping or landing on your foot during a sports activity
- Proper athletic footwear will help stabilize your foot during activities and help prevent re-injury or a chronic problem from developing.
- An ankle brace, taping, or high top shoes can provide added support and stability.
- Limit brace wear to high impact activities.
- Performing strengthening exercises
Symptoms of Ankle Sprain
When ligaments are damaged, there is:
- Pain and swelling. Too much swelling can slow the healing process. Pain is usually severe in the first two to three days.
- Tenderness when you touch the ankle
- Restricted range of motion
- Instability in the ankle
The first aid treatment that can be applied to ankle sprain is to calm the inflation and control the swelling and the pain. Home remedies include:
- Give your ankle time to heal properly. Stop all activities that induce pain
- Wrap ice cubes in a damp towel, use frozen peas or a sports ice pack in a towel. Apply to the injured area for 15-20 minutes every one to two hours while you are awake. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Painkillers assist in reducing the pain.
- You can use an elastic bandage to provide support and help reduce swelling. Elevating your ankle above your heart will also help reduce swelling.
Recommended Exercise for Ankle Sprain
It is important to do practice exercise without shoes to fully mobilize the ankle.
- Stand at the wall or ballet bar and use your hands for gentle balance (but not to brace against).
- Keeping your left heel planted firmly on the floor, swing your free leg (with knee bent) vigorously side to side while stabilizing yourself with your ankle muscles.
- 20 reps each leg.
Hip Star Excursion
Place one foot on a towel.
- Slowly slide the foot that is on the towel out to the side, then diagonal and finally straight backwards.
- Make sure the opposite side (without the towel) maintains proper alignment of the hip, knee and ankle as the other leg is sliding into the three different directions. This is best done in front of a mirror.
- Perform the sliding on each leg.
DYNAMIC SOLEUS/GASTROC STRETCH: (muscles of the calf)
Keeping your ankles in a neutral position (not turned inward or outward).
- Stand with your hands on the wall for stability and flex the knee nearest the wall.
- Hold for two seconds and repeat.
- Ten reps on each leg.