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Repetitive Ankle Sprains

Are you fairly active? Do you suffer from repetitive ankle sprains? Well let’s discuss about ankles this time!

The ankle is a complex joint that is able to move in many directions but it is also expected to take your body weight (and more if you are jumping or running). This makes it necessary for the ankle to be supported by many active structures like muscles and tendons and also passive structures like ligaments.  When you injure the muscles/tendons in the ankle, it is referred to as a strain, and when you injure the ligaments (which are more common) it is referred to as a sprain.

The following picture gives a brief idea about the anatomy of ligaments that are often involved in most ankle injuries. In the majority of situations, the ligaments injured are the ones that support the outside of the ankle, primarily the anterior talofibular ligament and middle calcaneofibular ligament.

 ankle-diagram

Our body can, as in most situations, heal an injured structure with scar tissue so long as the injury is not too severe, but if not managed properly there could be some degree of leftover:

  • Weakness in the joint
  • Decreased movement in the joint
  • Decreased proprioception

Of the above three the first two are self-explanatory and if left unrestored can lead to repetitive ankle sprains. Let’s discuss about proprioception a bit here. 

To put it simply: proprioception is the ability to perceive the relative position of a joint in any given situation. This awareness leads to better muscle activation, thereby leading to improved active protection of the joint.

If left untrained, the decreased proprioception and hence the decreased position sense in the joint makes an individual more prone for a repeated injury. Proprioception can be restored by doing proper…

  • Balance training and
  • Impact training

These exercises are to be initiated once adequate healing has occurred in the ankle and may have to be continued for several weeks depending on the severity of the original injury.

So physical therapy will help not only with improving your muscle strength and restoring your ankle mobility, but also with providing you proper proprioceptive retraining to help prevent another injury in the future.

Sudharshan Sundararajan is a physical therapist at our Grange location and with over a dozen years of experience behind him, he has successfully treated numerous ankle injuries in the past.  Please contact one of our clinics if you’ve suffered an ankle injury and would like to have your ankle assessed!