Diving in with Dr. Giljum
by Dr. Brendan Giljum
I hope you enjoyed our recent months’ segments with regards to safely returning to activity and avoiding injury after time off. This month’s topic discusses a very common injury that affects about 20% of active people at some point in their lives: lateral ankle sprains.
Ankle sprains are the most common soft tissue injury and often occur because someone “rolled their ankle.” Sprains on the outer side of the ankle are much more common than the inner side, and people who have suffered a prior ankle injury are more likely to suffer subsequent ankle injuries.
Ligaments are made up of individual fibers running together to form a strong fibrous band, and they hold bones together. When a ligament is stretched too far, it can begin to fray or tear. This is known as a “sprain.” Sprains are graded by the severity of damage to the ligament fibers. Grade 1 sprains have painful ligament stretching without tears, Grade 2 have partial tears of the ligament fibers, and Grade 3 means all the ligament fibers are torn and the ligament can no longer protect the joint.
Ankle sprains cause pain and swelling on the outside of the ankle, often with bruising and difficulty walking. Elevating the ankle by lying or sitting with the foot elevated or using a compression wrap can help reduce swelling. Ice and ice massage for 10 minutes per hour may relieve swelling as well. Depending upon the severity of the sprain, an ankle brace or crutches may be necessary. A period of rest may also be necessary initially to help healing. Grade 1 sprains may allow for a return to activity in a couple of days, with more severe sprains sometimes taking six weeks or longer to recover.
The following exercises, when performed properly, can assist in recovery from Lateral Ankle Sprain and help minimize future problems. These exercises should be performed slowly and within a relatively comfortable range. Maintain good posture and breathe naturally. Do not hold your breath. Stop any exercises that cause pain or radiating symptoms. Make sure to rest between repetitions.
1. Ankle Alphabet - Sit with thigh and calf supported by a chair. Imagine the big toe is a pen and slowly move the foot to trace the alphabet. Perform capital letters and then repeat for lowercase letters. Limit hip and knee movement.
2. Standing Gastrocnemius Stretch - Stand facing a wall with affected leg back and straight with heel on the floor. Unaffected leg will be in front for support. Keeping the back straight, lean forward until a stretch is felt in the calf. Keep the heel on the floor. Relax and then lean further forward to increase stretch.
3. Standing Soleus Stretch - Stand facing the wall with the ball of the affected foot on the wall, and unaffected leg behind for stability. Place hands on the wall for more stability. Bend the forward knee while lowering the body toward the wall until a strong stretch in the calf is felt. Hold the contraction, relax and stretch further.
4. Single Leg Stance - Stand on one leg and slowly bend the knee while maintaining balance for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
5. Wobble Board - Do not perform this activity until pain is subsided. Stand on a wobble board and make a “+” sign with movements followed by a full circular motion. Rehab exercises like this are key for preventing future injury and recovering fully from the current ailment.
I hope you found this information helpful! For more information on how to take control of your health, follow me on all social media @giljumchiro.
This article is for informational purposes only. This information does not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have questions regarding your condition or are experiencing pain, always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health professional. Developments in medical research may impact this information. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.