Updated: Sep 11, 2018
Ankle sprains, lateral ankle sprains in particular, are probably one of the most common injuries that anyone will encounter in their life time. But what exactly is an ankle sprain.
A sprain is any form of pull injury on a ligament. Also known as an inversion sprain (because the sole of the foot is pointing inwards when it happens) lateral ankles sprains are cause when someone "goes over on their foot" and there is a sharp pull on the ligaments of the ankle. Lateral sprains, or outside of the foot are far more common than their counterpart. They can be quite tame injuries, or they can also be quite severe in some cases with torn ligaments. Return to normal activity can range from 2-4 weeks for a grade 1 or lesser sprain, where as the more severe cases it can be up to 6-8 weeks *NOTE this is with proper rehab of the ankle. This point is important.
Without proper rehab of an ankle after a sprain, the chance of the injury reoccurring is over 50%! Chances are its going to happen again. That's because the brain loses propreoception or the ankles awareness in space when moving. It also loses strength and motor control in certain muscles and ligaments around the foot. For what ever reason, people don't seem to register an ankle sprain as a serious injury. Through out my time playing sport, I've seen more ankles strapped up like an Egyptian Mummy than I care to mention. In clinic, when taking an injury history, people without fail will neglect to tell me that they sprained their ankle, sometimes on numerous occasions, or will just brush over it like its no biggie.
But that's just it. It IS A BIGGIE. We simply don't realise the impact an ankle sprain can have on our body. Think about it. You hurt your foot, you limp. The brain wants to take you away from the injury and the danger. This is a very useful compensation as it allows time to heal. However, there doesn't seem to be any mechanism to tell the brain that everything is A O.K. and we carry on that compensation. So what? I hear you ask. Well think about it. You walk around bearing all your weight on one foot for 20 years, see how your knees like it, see how your back likes it, see how your neck likes it. You get the point. The knock on effect from a lateral sprain can cause havoc in the body else where up the chain. I have seen numerous people with lower back pain because of a sprained ankle from years ago. They never put two and two together because hey, a sprained ankle is just no biggie. On the side of the foot that we sprained. Until we retrain and rehab the ankle, joints spiraling right up to the shoulder and neck will not move like they used to or are supposed to. Simply because the foot is not working properly. What happens when you don't use something for a while, or you use something in a certain way for long periods of time? It becomes the new norm. That hip that's hurting? How much of its potential range of motion has it been missing out on over the years? The shoulder pain that never goes away? Has it been moved through its full potential range of motion in years? I would hazard a guess at no. These become "dark spaces" that the joints don't want to move into, or simply forget how to. All because of that pesky ankle sprain.
So there you have it. Have a think about your own previous history. Think about the amount of times you've had an ankle sprain? Have you don't anything about it, or simply just hoped that it went away?
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Yours in motion