14 Jul Lateral Ankle Sprain Part 3: How to manage your lateral ankle sprain
As discussed in previous blogs, ankle sprains are not injuries that fully heal once the pain has subsided. A full rehabilitation program is essential to ensure that the muscles around the affected ligaments are strong enough to aid the ligament in healing, since ligaments have a poor vascular supply compared to muscles and bony structures. This will ensure that your lateral ligaments strong enough to resist inversion forces at your ankle to prevent future ankle sprains.
Managing acute and chronic ankle sprains requires two different treatment plans as there are different goals to achieve. Beginning with acute ankle sprains, the initial goals are pain reduction, improving range of motion and reducing swelling. The following should be performed when treating an acute ankle sprain, within 1 – 3 days after the injury:
- Strapping your foot: this will ensure that the injured ligaments are offloaded to reduce their movement. This will help with pain reduction.
- Ice: an ice pack, wrapped around a tea towel, should be placed on the injured part of your foot for approximately 10 minutes, 4 times per day. This will help initially to reduce swelling in the acute phase of injury.
- Avoid excessive walking: rest is initially important to stop excessive movement around your injury. If this occurs, it can delay your healing and increase swelling.
- Mild Exercises: This depends on the severity of your ankle sprain. However, in most cases, mild exercises should begin start away to ensure that your range of motion and movement in your ankle. This will reduce that ‘stiff’ feeling you get after an injury and will speed up your rehabilitation. For example, in the pictures across, if I have a grade 1 or 2 ankle sprain, this gently calf exercise is an example of one that can be performed. Double check this with your health professional before commencing this exercise.
A chronic ankle sprain is often called chronic ankle instability. This occurs when the symptoms of an ankle sprain arise despite no acute ankle injuries occurring, or symptoms are still present 1 – 2 weeks after an acute ankle sprain. It is common in individuals with a previous history of ankle sprains or those who perform side – to – side sports that increase the risk of getting an ankle sprain. Compared to an acute ankle sprain, the goals for rehabilitation are to reduce the pain symptoms, improve strength of the surrounding muscles and improve balance. The following exercises are ones to begin with. Again, double check this with your health professional before commencing:
- Double Leg Calf Raises: This is a gentle strengthening exercise for your calf muscles. Come up onto the balls of your feet. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then take approximately 5 seconds to bring your heels to the ground. Repeat this for 10 repetitions and 3 sets.
- Single Leg Stance: Restoring balance after an ankle sprain is a key factor in reducing the risk of reinjury after you have finished your rehabilitation. Start this exercise by lifting one foot slightly off the ground, balancing on your other foot. Aim to hold this position for approximately 30 seconds while trying to control the movements in your foot and hip. Then repeat this for your other leg.
- Hip abduction using a TheraBand: Gentle strengthening of your hip abductors will help work with your calf exercises to stabilise your leg muscles around injured ligaments. Perform this exercise standing, with wrapped around the outside of your foot. Slowly extend your outside leg to approximately 30 degrees while keeping your leg extended, your toes pointing inwards and no movement from your upper body. Then slowly bring your leg back towards your body. Repeat this for 10 repetitions and 3 sets, then for the opposite leg.
Rehabilitation for ankle sprains are important for further injury prevention and to ensure that you can go back to doing what you love without any concerns. If you are having problems with your ankles from a history of ankle sprains, let the team at SOLE – LUTION PODIATRY help you. You can reach us on 02 9569 5145 or book online at https://sole-lutionpodiatry.com.au/book-online/.