Anyone who participates in sports understands at some time they will have an injury. Not only do ankle injuries happen to professional, college and high school athletes but also to the week-end athlete. This article addresses ankle injuries to the “week-end warrior”.
The most common sprain injury to the ankle is the lateral or outside of the ankle. This is the lateral collateral ligament. It has been reported that ankle sprains make up approximately 15% of all athletic injuries. The most common week-end ankle injuries occur during the sports of basketball, volleyball and soccer.
Ankle sprains are graded 1, 2 or 3. The worst sprain is the grade 3. Grades 2 and 3 should be seen by a doctor for treatment. The acute phase of the injury varies from 1-3 days for the grade 1 to perhaps as long as 7 days for the grade 3. Grade 1 is mild and is self limiting and office care may not be necessary.
It is unfortunate that once the pain subsides and the week-end athlete can hobble around, the treatment may be discontinued. It is precisely at this time an effort needs to be done to prevent chronic ankle pain and possible instability of the ankle joint.
What should be done after you have been sent home with some crutches and the swelling subsides?
Continue To Control The Pain
- Ice, rest and compression
- Ace bandage – always wrap from the toes towards the heart
Start Easy Strengthening Exercises And Controlled Weight Bearing Routines
- Range of motion exercises
- Rotating the ankle using the toes like the hands on a clock
- Moving the ankle back and forth as well as up and down
- Trying to draw letters in the air with your big toe
- A “wobble board” for proprioceptive rehabilitation of the joint
- Easy joint mobilization with chiropractic care techniques
During The Aggressive Rehabilitation Phase, More Aggressive Exercises And Activities Are Introduced
- Stretching of the calf muscles with greater effort
- Weight bearing exercises
- Use of Theraband or elastic band resistance exercises
- Balance board
- Continuing with office treatment if there are any flare-ups with the exercises
Gradually returning to the sport – it may be up to two weeks for a grade 1 sprain, 3-4 weeks for a grade 2 and possibly 6-8 weeks for a grade 3 sprain.
Coordinate your treatment with a health care specialist. Consideration may be given to taping the ankle or the use of a semi rigid brace for prevention of a reoccurrence. Always remember to do warm up stretches before you resume week-end athletics.