Strong Ankles - Sprains and Strains

The ankle and foot are an amazing complex that mould to the surface of the ground and allow the body to move in the direction of our choosing. Given it is such a slim, small structure in comparison to the rest of our body, it has to be incredibly strong, durable and flexible.

Ankle sprains often occur through a twisting of the ankle and you roll out or inwards. This is usually associated with tearing of ligaments and tendons. Muscles may also be torn and bones can break. If a ligament, which attaches bone to bone, is pulled hard enough, it can pull a tiny fragment off the bone where is used to attach – this is called and avulsion fracture. Bone surfaces can also be impacted together resulting on bone bruising. If the joint is irritated, synovitis can occur. In this situation the joint is hot, sore and swollen for a lot longer than the initial first week of inflammation that should occur.

It is essential to control the initial injury. Ice for 20mins every 2 hours (be careful not to get an ice burn), keep the leg elevated where-ever possible. A brace has been shown to be very beneficial, even a stretch bandage around the area will help prevent swelling. Use one (in the opposite hand to the ankle injured) or two crutches to minimise you from limping. Trying to walk as normally as possible is important for a number of different reasons that will help your recovery.

Rehabilitation centres around regaining the joint range of movement. Our sports physio’s will use a repertoire of skills to do this including soft tissue release, joint mobilisation, taping, and needling. There is very strong research indicating the range of motion we need to regain. We do a test called knee to wall – to do this keep your foot flat on the ground and bend your ankle to touch your knee to the wall: see how far you can take your foot from the wall, keeping the heel down and the knee touching the wall. 8cm is the range we aim for to start running and 12cm if you need to do a more jumping sport/activity. Under this range, and the body will struggle: you will put your foot, knee, hip or back under pressure to compensate and this is when you are at risk of further injury. We know balance is hugely affected – if you don’t realise you are falling, your ankle won’t respond and you will reinjure. Standing on one leg with your eyes closed or investing in one of our balance boards will help this. And don’t forget the kinetic chain – the ankle is not on its own, it is connected to the rest of you, so we must keep cardio fitness and strength through all the other leg muscles. A good sports physio has the job of getting someone back as soon as possible, but also it is essential they don’t reinjure a week later. Whether you are an athlete or not, do the best by your ankles. At Physiologix, at the Gap Health and Racquet Club, our highly experienced physios are here to help. Please feel free to call us on (07)3511 1112 or to email from the contact page of the website