Ankle sprains: prevention and treatment

A sprained ankle is a common injury in our sports loving communities. It often happens during soccer, footy, netball, running, and walking. 

Even minor sprains can take a long time to heal − one in three people still complain about ankle problems years after the injury. Pain and swelling can continue and further sprains can occur. 

So, what is an ankle sprain? 

Our ankle joints are connected by ligaments which act like thin, strong ropes that hold the bones together. When too much force is applied to a ligament, damage occurs. The “rope” can fray or tear − this is called an ankle sprain. It usually happens when someone twists their foot too far. Most commonly, people roll their ankle outwards which damages the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. 

As with any sport or exercise, being match fit matters. Training well and warming up before you begin to move are important. Know your fitness level and take time to build yourself up.

Slow and steady is better than fast and injured. 

Include exercises that get your ankle used to moving in different directions, safely. 

If an ankle sprain occurs, rest, ice, compression, and elevation form the standard response. Seek professional advice and treatment promptly. Care for a sprained ankle is different in the first few days − once this time passes, there are steps to help you get better, faster. Ask your chiropractor if a brace or taping might help − these will let your ankle move around safely and can reduce swelling and healing time. 

An approach called neuromuscular training (NMT) can aid healing and reduce the chance of spraining your ankle again. NMT simply refers to exercises that help the nerves and muscles to talk. The exercise shared earlier is a good example. Balancing on a wobble board is another. 

There are steps we can take to avoid a sprained ankle. We can look at reasons for increased risk and fix them. A lack of ankle strength and stability raise the chances of injury. So does poor flexibility, bad balance, and quick changes in direction. 

Exercises that improve strength and balance help reduce these risks. 

Here’s a simple, useful exercise: Stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. Repeat the exercise routine, but bend the standing knee. You can increase the difficulty by closing your eyes while you perform the sequence again. Remember to work both sides. 

If you suffer from a sprained ankle, it’s important to get the right treatment and then rehabilitate your ankle properly. Speak to your chiropractor about the best ways for you to recover.

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