An ankle sprain is a common injury and usually occurs when the ankle is twisted or inverted. The word sprain refers to an injury of the soft tissues, which in this case, are the ligaments of the ankle.
Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue which help connect bones together. Three main ligaments make up the lateral ligament complex on the outside of the ankle. They are Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL), the Calcaneofibular Liagment (CFL) and the Posterior Talofibular Ligament (PTFL).
Initially the ankle will be swollen, painful and potentially bruised, due to ruptured blood vessels from the tearing of the soft tissues. Most of the initial swelling is actually bleeding into surrounding tissues.
An ankle sprain is the result of stretching or tearing of the ankle ligaments. With minor sprains stretching the ligaments while major tears being either partial or complete ruptures. The majority of sprains occur when the foot inverts, meaning the bottom of foot angles towards the opposite foot, forcing all your body weight onto the outside of the ankle.
Partial or incomplete rehabilitation following an ankle injury will increase the chance of the injury reoccurring. This can lead to ankle instability, where the muscles around the joint fail to activate as they should. Subsequently, this can cause the ankle to potentially give way and feel untrustworthy on unstable surfaces. The phases of ankle rehabilitation include: restoring range of motion, improving muscle strength, proprioception and finally, functional strengthening. The duration or length of rehabilitation depends on the severity of the injury, with a full rehab program for a moderate ankle sprain subsequently taking anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks.
Speak to an Exercise Physiologist at Optimum Health Solutions for guidance, correct management and exercise prescription for your ankles today.