Q: Ankle Sprain Pain that Just Won’t Quit?

Hey Lauren,

I was wondering if you could help me. In October last year [11 months ago] I sprained my ankle. I had physio in December through to February. I was diagnosed with a grade 1 (slight sprain) but my physio said that I must of had a Grade 2 because of the discomfort I was in. It hasn’t been hurting from when I stopped my physio until June. I went over it playing Rounders (like softball) and ever since it has been really painful but it comes and goes while playing sport and running. I have been using the stretches I did for my physio but it just seems to get worse.

Do you know stretches to do, which can strengthen my ankle?

Many thanks

Katie P 🙂

 

A:

Hi Katie P,

With all the cross country training people have been doing, I’ve been getting a lot of ankle questions lately!

When you have experienced a bad ankle sprain in the past, you are more likely to re-sprain it, and often it doesn’t take much to turn it over. My husband Jesse has sprained his enough times that even an flat asphalt road will send his ankle over if he’s not paying attention. Its quite amazing…a talent really.

Two things to consider here:

  • Not all sprains are created equal. You may have done something more serious or different during ankle roll #2 than your initial sprain, so its important to check back in with a doctor or physio. The rehab exercises you were given the first time might not be the right ones for this particular sprain, and you could be wasting your time without getting a quick check up. Given your description, this is what I suspect is going on.
  • General ankle strength exercises are your friend. For people prone to ankle sprains, its a NECESSITY to stay on top of your strength exercises. A bad sprain can loosen the ligaments that support the ankle, leaving it wobbly and unstable. The bottom of your foot has a zillion nerves that read the surface you are on and communicate to all the surrounding tissues to let them know what to do in order to keep you on your feet. Problem is, long after a sprain has “healed,” some of those surrounding tissues remain stupid, and they don’t get the message from your feet or simply can’t react quickly enough. Certain exercises help re-educate the ankle so it can perform they way you need it to.

So first see your doc just in case. When you are cleared, make ankle strengthening part of your routine whenever you start a new season for 4-6 weeks. In my experience, theraband exercises and balance board exercises are the most effective things that you can do at home. They take very little time and you get great results. I do the balance stuff standing on a pillow and find it challenging enough to do the trick.

_________________________________________________

Check out the youtube video below to get the basic idea of theraband exercises. I do 3 sets of 10-15 reps, per foot, per direction, 3 times per week at the beginning of a season while building my base (or rehabbing a sprain). I hook one end of the band to a table leg and move my body around accordingly.

Best of luck!
Lauren