Sports Injuries: Ankle Sprains

By: Greg Johnston

Background

-There are about 25,000 people who sprain their ankle everyday.

-An ankle sprain is an injury that occurs to one or more of the ligaments in your ankle.

-Ligaments are the tough bands of tissue that hold our bones together.

-Ligaments are flexible, but if stretched too far or twisted suddenly, the ligament may become strained or rip entirely.

-There are three grades of ankle sprains classified by severity.

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3 Grades of Sprains

Grade I: ligaments are stretched but not torn

Grade II: ligaments are partially torn

Grade III: ligament(s) fully torn

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How an ankle sprain may occur

-foot lands with too much force

-foot lands on ground at an angle

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At a higher risk of recieving an ankle sprain if

-physical activity is done on uneven surfaces

-wear shoes that lack proper support

-play a sport that involves a lot of sudden change in direction (soccer and basketball)

-you have sprained your ankle before

What does spraining your ankle feel like?

-ankle pain can be severe or mild

-swelling

-bruising

-instability and difficulty in moving the ankle

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Treatment

Minor and moderate ankle sprains will heal on their own over time, but in order to speed the process you should do the following:

-Rest it: put little to no weight on your hurt ankle at first (crutches are common).

-Ice the ankle: elevate and ice the ankle several times a day for 15-20 minutes to reduce swelling.

-Compression: elastic bandage or something to wrap the ankle and keep the swelling down.

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Recovery

Once you have rested your ankle enough and have got most of the swelling down it is wise to start stretching and strengthening exercises.
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When has your ankle fully recovered?

How quickly the ankle heals depends on the severity of the sprain. Typically recoveries range anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 weeks but it differs for each person and sprain. The most important thing is to not rush your injury to try and get back to full physical activity. Three main things you need to make sure of before jumping back to full physical activity is:

-you can move your ankle as freely as your uninjured one

-your ankle feels as strong as your uninjured one

-there is no pain in the ankle when running or jumping

If all three of these things are true for your ankle then you are ready to return.

Do not push yourself before your ankle is healed. You can and will re-injure the ankle if you try to do too much before your ankle is fully healed and ready.