Dealing with Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries in football. A sudden jolt or twist can overstretch and tear the supporting ligaments of the joint. Early treatment of a sprained ankle can help to speed recovery and minimize the symptoms.

The symptoms of ankle sprain include:

Swelling, the ankle can swell in minutes or over several hours.
Pain in the ankle joint when trying to move it and when walking.

Acute Management
Suggestions for immediate treatment of an ankle sprain include:

Stop your activity.
Rest the injured joint.
Use icepacks every two hours, applied for 15 minutes.
Bandage the joint firmly with an elasticized bandage.
Raise the ankle above heart height whenever possible.
Avoid exercise, heat, alcohol and massage in the first 48 hours, as these can all exacerbate swelling.

Recurring ankle sprains
Some people suffer from recurring ankle sprains. This can be caused by a number of factors working in combination, including:

Ligament scarring and excess looseness, as a result of previous ankle sprains
Insufficient rehabilitation from previous sprains. This can lead to weak muscles surrounding the ankle joint. It can also cause decreased balance ability; this is called a proprioceptive deficit.

Professional help
If you are unable to take any weight on the foot at all, seek medical attention immediately. An x-ray may be needed to see whether a bone is broken.

If the pain from a sprained ankle that you are managing yourself has not improved after a day or so, it is best to seek medical advice and consult with a physiotherapist or health care provider to get an accurate diagnosis of the injury and suggest the most appropriate treatment plan.

Physiotherapy provides rehabilitation and support
Physiotherapy treatments may include:

Hands on therapy for damaged tissues
Exercise programs to improve mobility of the joint
Exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the ankle
Exercises to encourage balance training and improve the proprioceptive deficit which often is overlooked
Advice on taping and ankle braces for use during activity

Preventing ankle sprains
Suggestions to prevent ankle sprains include:

Warm up prior to exercise
Consider ankle braces or tape, as directed by your physiotherapist.
Take care when exercising on uneven or wet ground, especially in the first few weeks after a sprain.
Consult your physiotherapist for ankle strengthening exercises and exercises to improve your ankles proprioception.

This information is provided to Sutherland Shire Football Association by Jubilee Sports Physiotherapy as part of its commitment to Shire football and the SSFA.

Information Supplied by Jubilee Sports Physiotherapy

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