Post by Will Thwaite (BPhty(Hons), BSc, Physiotherapist APAM)
Sprained ankles are very common injuries that do not just happen in sport. Ankle sprains can also occur by stepping on uneven surfaces or objects, slipping or tripping. The term “sprain” means a ligament has been overstretched and becomes damaged. A ligament might be mildly stretched or completely torn. Sometimes instead of stretching or tearing a ligament will pull off the area of bone at one end – called an avulsion fracture. The muscles of the ankle and foot can also sometimes be damaged when your roll your ankle.
It is important to get a physiotherapy review following even mild ankle sprain injury because damage to ligaments/muscle/tendons can easily lead to long-term complications and increased risk of re-injury. Ligaments and muscles provide a lot of sensory information about what position the foot is in (called proprioception) and what direction it is moving in. This information is crucial to your balance, strength, and control of the foot. After an injury, proprioception and coordination are often affected and don’t necessarily spontaneously return. If these impairments are not addressed, the risk of re-injury remains high. Good rehabilitation for an ankle injury involves ensuring that each of these factors are addressed.
Another common impairment following an ankle sprain is stiffness of the joints. This stiffness is typically noticed when trying to walk or run and get your knee forwards and over the foot. This is particularly limiting with walking downstairs for example. Without restoring this ankle range of motion, increased forces can be transmitted to the foot or knee and lead to other issues. Stiffness in joints of the ankle also affects optimal foot mechanics, that may increase your risk of foot injury.
The area of ankle rehabilitation is well researched, and good research shows that manual therapy or hands-on techniques to decrease stiffness are very effective following an ankle injury. The goal of these techniques is to restore optimal movement and biomechanics of the ankle, which has been shown to decrease pain, improve function and allow for a safer return to activity compared to exercises alone.
For these reasons, it is encouraged to get even minor ankle injuries reviewed by a physiotherapist to ensure that your balance, strength, range of motion and coordination is adequate. IF you have recently had an ankle injury or seem to continually roll your ankle, contact RHP Physiotherapy to help you complete your rehabilitation.
RHP Physiotherapy Kelvin Grove : 3856 5566. RHP Physiotherapy Corinda : 3716 0111