One of the leading reasons to see a sports doctor are ankle sprains. We’ve all had at least one of them and for some people it is an almost weekly occurrence. The most common way to sprain your ankle is by rolling your foot inward or “inverting” your ankle. Your outer ligaments have less bony support so the ankle has increased range of motion rolling in or inverting. This makes you more likely to roll it. Most of the time a little RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is all you need, but on occasion the intensity of the sprain can result in tearing or rupture of the ligaments in the ankle or even possibly a fracture of the bones. If you can’t walk on it due to pain or the swelling is severe or you are concerned at all, then you should be evaluated by a professional.
We think of a sprain like stretching out a pair of socks. The ligaments are small, tough, flat rope-like connections between the bones. By their definition “ligaments” link bone to bone. On the other hand “tendons” connect muscles to bones. To get back to our sock example though, when you stretch out a pair of socks they kind of slide down your leg and don’t hold up quite as well. Of course unlike your socks, your ligaments have the ability to heal. Sometimes they do not heal fully, however, and you are left with some increased laxity or looseness in your ankle joint. This can stay loose for decades or even the rest of your life. As a result, once you have sprained your ankle you are at increased risk for doing it again. The key to preventing a first or future ankle sprain is appropriate preparation and of course a certain amount of common sense. For example, wearing three-inch heels for a long walk on cobblestones is not a good choice. Likewise, walking on any uneven surfaces after a few alcoholic beverages should be avoided. You get the idea! When it comes to adequate preparation, if you have had an ankle sprain in the past and want to prevent future occurrences, then you should get a good ankle program and do it regularly at home. We have some in the store. You can also consider a one time visit to a physical therapist to develop a home program for you. Ankle programs should focus on range of motion and balance and slowly increase difficulty in a pain-free zone until you are working on plyometrics on one leg. Sport-specific activities should be completed in a non-competition setting prior to returning to full sport.
Take good care of your ankles! Keep them safe and develop a good preventive program today!
To learn more about ankle sprains or to schedule a consultation, contact us.