The ankle is a hinged joint that makes it possible for the foot to move towards and away from the body. One of the most common injuries is the ankle sprain. Ankle sprains happen when the foot twists, rolls, or turns beyond the norm. This causes the ligaments to stretch beyond their normal range in an abnormal position, and if the force is too great, you may even tear the ligaments. The result most people experience is ankle pain and swelling. Learn more about how you can ease your pain with our ankle sprain exercises.
Ankle Sprain Causes
A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs during a moment of severe stress for the ligaments that connect the bones and muscles in your ankle. Ankle sprain causes range from a twisted ankle to a poor landing during a jump or fall. Any impact that forces your ankle into an unnatural shape very suddenly can cause an ankle sprain. Ankle sprains come in three grades:
- Grade 1 sprains represent a stretching of the ligaments, most often occurring during a trip or fall.
- Grade 2 sprains represent the ligaments tearing slightly, not unlike a badly pulled muscle.
- Grade 3 sprains indicate that the ankle ligaments have torn completely in places, caused by the severest of injuries.
This type of injury will only grow worse with repeated activity. If you believe you may have sprained your ankle, consult a doctor immediately.
Ankle Sprain Symptoms
Ankle sprain symptoms can vary widely depending on the grade of the sprain, but in most cases, the first indicators of an ankle sprain may feel very similar to a simple twisted ankle. You may experience:
- Soreness and tenderness when weight is placed on the foot
- Swelling and redness around the ankle area
- Sharp pains when the joint is moved or rotated
- A bruised appearance
- An unsteady, loose feeling in the joint
Many of these symptoms will grow much worse when weight is placed on the injured foot, but a steady pain will likely be present even when the ankle is at rest. Be careful not to injure yourself further by attempting to keep working.
Ankle Sprain Treatment & Prevention
- Mobility and Flexibility- Having stiff ankles doesn't just slow you down, it can seriously hinder normal mobility and cause injury. It's important to keep your joints mobile and muscles flexible. Begin each day with a series of stretches and be certain to stretch prior to any exercise or excessive physical activity. Again, stretching the entire chain of leg muscles will help to decrease the risk for injury.
- Strength- Work to strengthen weak ankles as well as the surrounding lower leg muscles. This is very important for aging adults and athletes as strengthening the entire chain of muscles can significantly help lower your chance of a sprain.
- Balance- The human balance system is controlled primarily by your subconscious, making balance and recovery seem almost automatic, but poor balance can be an underlying cause for ankle injuries. Simple exercises and balance training using balance boards can help keep your senses sharp and keep you on your feet.
- Proper Footwear and Support- Proper footwear is always a good idea. Make sure that your shoes fit properly and offer good support. If they do not, invest in a good insert that will make up for the shoes' inadequacies. Avoiding high heels as often as possible is also a good rule of thumb. In some cases, wrapping can provide an added level of support and stability to weak or injured ankles. This is particularly relevant for people who are returning to sporting activities.
Ankle Sprain Solutions
Cho-Pat® Dynamic Ankle Compression Sleeve - Cho-Pat Dynamic Ankle Compression Sleeve is a comfortable, knitted support that combines warmth, compression, and support to help reduce pain, discomfort and promote healing.
- Tuli’s® Gaitors- Tuli’s Gaitors combines light-weight shock absorption with superior arch support in an ultra-thin carbon fiber orthotic that delivers long-lasting relief and comfort.
Long Term Healing
Stretch and Strengthen
ProStretch Plus™ - ProStretch Plus delivers a technological advanced stretch that makes increasing strength and flexibility in the calves, hamstrings, Plantar fascia, and toes easier and more effective.