An ankle sprain can occur to anyone at any age regardless of their physical fitness.
Some sprain their ankle as a result of a fitness activity whereas others from simply stepping on an uneven surface and losing their balance. The ankle joint and bones are held together by ligaments which prevent the ankle from twisting and turning in an abnormal fashion. The ligaments, which have an elastic structure, usually stretch but then return to their usual position. A sprain occurs when these ligaments are stretched beyond their usual range. A severe sprain is the result of ligaments actually tearing.
Paul Townley Discusses Ankle Sprains
What Are the Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain?
The symptoms will depend upon whether you have stretched or torn the ligament - a tear being more painful than a stretch. The worse the sprain, the worse the symptoms. Most will feel an immediate pain and notice swelling around the ankle - there may even be some bruising. In some cases you will hear a popping sound or feel a tearing sensation. The ankle may feel tender when you touch it. If you have torn a ligament or dislocated the joint of the ankle, you are likely to be de-stabilised as a result. A major tear may render you unable to walk or apply weight to the foot. Often however the pain will subside fairly quickly.
Who is prone to an Ankle Sprain?
Anyone who has sprained their ankle in the past where the ligaments did not have a chance to fully heal, will be more prone to twisting their ankle again. If you regularly walk on uneven surfaces or are involved in sports such as football, tennis and running you may sprain your ankle more often than most. In addition, if you wear shoes that are too loose or have high heels, you may be more susceptible.
Treating an Ankle Sprain
Following an ankle sprain the joint often becomes very stiff and the range of motion at the joint is reduced considerably. Mobility exercises for the ankle can start very early in the rehabilitation process - from day 2 in mild to moderate sprains. Lateral movements should be avoided in the early stages so as not to put any stress at all on the injured ligaments. Later when pain allows, exercises with lateral movements involving sideways motion can be done.
Exercise: Active plantar flexion and dorsi flexion: in early stages;
This exercise can be done in the early stages and will help prevent the ankle from seizing up.
Simply pull the foot up as far as it will go (dorsi flexion), hold for a couple of seconds and then point it away from you (plantar flexion) and hold again.
A good method to start with is to perform 2 sets of 20 reps whilst the ankle is iced and elevated.
The advantage of this exercise is that the damaged ligaments will not be stressed by sideways movement, the calf and shin muscles maintain strength and the pumping motion helps to decrease swelling.