Q: Sprained Ankle Advice?

Hey Lauren

I am a keen athlete, I do so many sports, but around about 7 weeks ago I sprained my ankle.  Recently it has been really painful to do sport and I have gone to the doctors and I have been told I have to have physio on it.

What can I do during sport to prevent spraining it again?

Katie Pullen

 

A:

Hey Katie,

Getting physio IS what will help prevent you from spraining it again.  When you go to physio, (physical therapy in the USA), they will do three things.  First they will examine it to find the problems, then they will break down scar tissue and get things moving properly, and finally they will give you strengthening exercises that will prevent future sprains.

Usually, when you sprain your ankle, the ligaments get stretched out and it swells up and all that.  After the initial swelling goes down, most people think they are healed and they go back to normal training without seeing a physio.  But there are two problems with that.

  1. The parts of your ankle that are most painful develop scar tissue in them while they heal.  It becomes stiff, and the temptation is to avoid movements that hurt in order to protect it, so over time it gets less and less mobile.  You want your foot and ankle joints to move fluidly and have some flexibility, so a physio will help you get that back (it will be painful, but worth it).
  2. The ligaments on one side of your ankle will be stretched out, making it easier to sprain it in the future.  Think of the ligaments like a trampoline.  A tight trampoline is awesome because when you land on it, it absorbs your shock quickly and launches you into the air with control.  A loose, saggy trampoline is impossible to do tricks on.  You land on it and it takes ages for it to reload and push you up into the air, and you don’t even get much height out of it.  Right now, your ankle ligaments are like a saggy trampoline, and a physio will tighten them right back up.

You will probably benefit from doing single-leg exercises on a balance board, as well as lots of Theraband exercises, but I’m sure you will get a personalized program at the physio that matches your ankle problem specifically.  In the future, remember what you learn from the physio…you can treat sprains on your own once you have the tools.  Just don’t wait seven weeks next time! 🙂

Good luck,

Lauren