Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries sustained in sports and recreational activities. While there are a few types of sprains, by far the most common is the inversion sprain. This is where the foot rolls outward and injures the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. If this injury occurs once, it is about 5-times more likely to happen again… unless it is treated properly!
Similar to tendinitis, if therapy is only directed at the injured tissue we do not get a complete recovery and we miss the opportunity to prevent future sprains. Whether the injury is mild or severe, acute or chronic, there are usually multiple parts of the foot and ankle that become less mobile and stiff. This cannot be effectively managed with simple stretching, as these structures are usually not short, but they are tight. (what’s the difference?) The tightness in the joints and soft tissues around the foot and ankle are what usually continues to put stress on the injured tissues, which delays healing and increases the probability of another sprain.
How we treat it:
Once swelling and pain are acutely controlled with laser, electric-stimulation and ice, mobility must be restored. However, this is rarely accomplished through standard calf stretching. The Manual Therapist must assess each component of this complex area to ensure efficient mechanics are restored. As mobility is regained, patients are given activities to reteach the foot and ankle how to function in each new position. After a patient demonstrates good control over the foot and ankle in a more efficient state, weight-bearing and functional exercises are performed specific to the patient’s goals and activities. It is not uncommon for our patients to report that their “bad ankle” becomes their good side!