Experiencing an injury to any part of the body is a challenge. Actually, it can put quite a hamper to your lifestyle. Not only are you dealing with the potential for ongoing pain, but you will likely have limited movement as well. For active individuals, injuries may happen more frequently and they can be more detrimental to your lifestyle because it puts you out of commission temporarily. Sprains, strains, and broken bones occur regularly with those who engage in sports and active lifestyles. An ankle injury is one injury that sports enthusiasts and active individuals commonly see. When an ankle injury occurs, it can be frustrating waiting for it to heal so you can get back to doing what you love most. However, there are techniques to aid in the healing process and strengthen your ankle so you can get on with life. First, let’s take a look at more details about ankle sprains.
Just what is an ankle sprain?
I’m sure we’ve all at some point or another have been running and had an ankle twist or roll over on us. Sometimes, the twist or roll over is enough to make us drop down to the ground. Other times, the ankle sort of buckles then straightens back up without you actually falling down. In both cases, there is pain but in a true sprain the pain will be significant. In addition, you will have pain several hours after the incident and the ankle will begin to swell. This indicates you have sprained it. What happens internally with an ankle sprain? Whether you roll your ankle inward or it rolls outward, ligaments are damaged during a sprain. If you roll it in, the tear will be on the inside and if you roll it outward, the tear will be on the outside.
Are there different types of sprains?
The severity of damage to the ligaments dictates how severe your ankle sprain will be. There are three different types of sprains and three different levels of sprain damage. Let’s look at the different types first.
This type of sprain occurs on the lateral, or outer, side of the foot when the foot pulls inward too far. This is the most common type of ankle injury.
This type of sprain occurs when the inside of the foot is pulled due to foot rolling too far to the outside.
High Ankle Sprain
This type of sprain affects the ligaments above the ankle and usually is a result of injury from sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and so on.
Not only are there different ways the ankle may be sprained but the severity may vary as well. There are three levels of intensity. They are as follows:
Grade 1 sprain
With this type of sprain, the ankle is pulled possibly to the limit but no breakage occurs. The person will still experience some pain and swelling, but it won’t be as serious as the other grades.
Grade 2 sprain
This level of sprain means that the ligaments experienced some tearing but not a total breakthrough. This is a more serious issue with a greater degree of swelling, more pain, bruising, and problems moving the ankle.
Grade 3 sprain
The grade 3 sprain is the worst because the ligaments are completely torn. You may not be able to stand on the ankle and there is extreme pain and swelling.
Methods to ease the pain of a sprained ankle
Although it’s never easy to lose mobility, a sprained ankle requires a certain amount of rest. Even for grade 1 sprains, you will need to take some time off your ankle. Doctors recommend that people who sprain their ankle should use the RICE method for healing. Most people are familiar with this approach but let’s review the details.
R: Rest the injured ankle. Since you probably won’t be able to lie around for several days, you will need a pair of crutches or walker to get around. The estimated time you’ll need to be off the affected ankle is anywhere from five days to six weeks depending on the severity.
I: Ice the injured ankle throughout the day for first three days.
C: Apply a compression wrap to minimize the swelling.
E: Elevate your ankle higher than your heart for a few hours a day. This reduces swelling and bruising.
After you complete the RICE procedure and you’re on day four and beyond, it’s helpful to wear an ankle support especially if you will be putting any weight on your foot.
What types of exercises can you do with a sprained ankle?
After an ankle injury, you’ll want to take time to exercise your foot to regain your strength. Of course, you must take the initial time in the beginning for healing though, but once the ligaments begin to mend, you can begin rehabilitation of the ankle muscle. If you baby your foot past the time needed, it can become stiff. Working the ankle out with gentle exercises will actually aid in the recovery process. Here are a few ways you can strengthen your ankle after an injury.
Stretch exercises: These exercises are designed to ensure your Achilles tendon doesn’t get stiff from lack of use while you’re healing. While sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you, flex your feet forward and backwards until you feel a slight pull in your calf. Next, turn your foot inward and hold for several seconds then turn your foot out away from you holding for several seconds. This will keep your feet flexible.
Range of motion exercises: Range of motion exercises help make sure you are still able to move your foot in all directions easily. When you are no longer in any pain, you can begin these exercises, which involve moving the ankle in each direction as far as possible.
Strength training exercises: This ensures your ankle maintains adequate strength. These exercises use resistance techniques to build the muscle. Resistance bands are handy for this type of exercise. While sitting down, place a resistance band around the middle of your foot and gently pull your foot towards you and hold for a few seconds. Next, place the band around your foot on one end and a sturdy object on the other end. Use your foot to pull the band away from the object using your ankle muscles.
Balancing and coordination exercises: To help restore your balance, stand on a pillow. Slowly lift your good leg and curl it behind you so that you are balancing yourself on the affected ankle. Hold this position for ten seconds. Repeat this procedure ten times.
Regaining your strength from an ankle injury takes time. Proper healing is important so that you can get back into the activities you are craving to do. Take the time to pamper your ankle, and then you you can enter the rehab stage faster. With proper strength-building exercises, you will be up and running before you know it. Be sure to keep your ankle wrapped during the full recovery stage so that you have adequate support and don’t slip into a relapse.