Ankle sprains are typically caused when the foot is twisted or turned beyond its limit causing an injury to the ligaments. The most common ankle sprain involves the ligaments on the outside of the ankle and this can occur when the foot is excessively rotated or turned inward. Injury to the ligaments along the medial, or inner side of the foot can occur as well with the most common cause being an excessive outward movement of the foot. Ankle sprains can occur during various activities including running, jumping, and quickly changing directions. There are several factors that can contribute to ankle sprains including fatigue, uneven surfaces, or improper footwear. Individuals who have sprained their ankle are at a greater risk for re-injury. There are several steps you can take to help prevent ankle sprains; strengthen the muscles in your legs and ankles to help support your joints, be aware of your surroundings, and avoid activities on uneven surfaces or slippery surfaces if you are prone to spraining your ankles.
how physical therapy can help:
Physical therapy can help you recover from an ankle sprain by restoring your mobility, strength, and stability in the ankle joint. The severity of the ankle sprain will dictate the course of action for treatment. An ankle sprain can vary from an injury to a single ligament to a significant injury to multiple ligaments. For more severe cases, Physical therapists will prioritize reducing swelling, restoring ankle mobility, and returning to full weight bearing during the early stages of treatment. Treatment will then focus on improving the strength and stability of the ankle joint to allow the individual to return to higher-level tasks including playing sports and walking on uneven surfaces.
exercises that may help reduce pain:
If you experience more pain with these exercises, hold off from that particular movement.
Standing Gastroc Stretch – This exercise primarily targets the large calf muscle while also stretching the front of the hip. To perform this stretch, stand with one leg placed behind you, ensuring an upright posture. Take a stride forward, keeping the knee straight on the leg being stretched, and lunge until you feel a tension in your calf or knee. Hold this stretch for 2-3 minutes, 2-3 times per day.
Heel Raise – To perform this exercise, stand up straight on a step with your heels off the edge. With your feet parallel to the floor, hold on to something or use a wall for support, if desired. Raise your heels up and slowly lower your heels below the balls of your feet. Push back up and repeat the movement. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. This can also be performed with one leg to make it more challenging.
Single-Leg Stance – To improve your balance and stability, stand on one leg for a maximum of 30 seconds, 2-4 times. If you start to lose balance, you may touch your toe to the ground, stand next to a chair, or touch a wall to help you balance. To make it more challenging, you can perform this exercise while standing on a pillow.
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