Ankle Sprains

Sprained ankles are a common occurrence generally resulting from rolling the ankle inward [inversion sprain] which damages the ligaments and tendons on the outer side of the ankle.  This will commonly cause pain and swelling on the outer aspect of the ankle, and at times can cause pain on the inner side as well.  Icing, ankle rehab exercises, and time can heal many mild sprains.

However, there can be further disruption to the ankle which does not allow for rapid healing and has an effect on the rest of the body.  Ankle sprains can also cause compression of the ankle joint restricting mobility, and/or malalignment of the fibula, and the smaller bones of the foot such as the talus, navicular, cuboid, or cuneiform bones.  Loss of motion or malalignment of any of these structures will impair the motion of the foot and ankle.  This will result in a loss of proper load bearing through the ankle which can affect the function of the knee, hip, and lower back.  Compensatory changes will then likely occur throughout the body, this can result in the upper body, head and neck shifting to balance for the alignment issues that are occurring below.  Therefore, ankle sprains can cause symptoms throughout the body which seem to appear for no reason.  These symptoms although far removed from the ankle are actually caused by the ankle sprain and loss of motion in the structures of the ankle and foot.

It is generally best to start exercising as soon as possible after injuring the ankle  { Unless of course there is a suspected dislocation or fracture in which case you need to see a Medical Doctor right away ].  This is to maintain muscle function in the lower leg and foot, as well to support the injured ligaments and restore load bearing and proprioception to the ankle.  Three simple exercises are 3 position heel raises, ankle circles, and wall sit.  The heel raises are performed standing in front of a wall with the feet at first straight ahead.  Slowly raise up on the balls of the feet maintaining vertical alignment with the wall.  You can have your hands lightly on the wall and let them slide up as you raise on to your toes.  Repeat with the feet toed out and then toed in.  Perform 10 reps in each position.  Ankle circles are performed lying on your back with one leg straight and the other bent 90 degrees at the hip, knee and ankle.  Rotate the ankle 10-20 times in each direction and then point the foot down and back for the same number of reps.  Repeat on the other ankle.  The wall sit is performed with your back on the wall and then slide down the wall so the hips, and knees are at 90 degrees and the feet straight ahead.  Sit in this position for one minute while pushing in to the floor with your heels.  These three exercises can be performed 3 or 4 times in the day and repeated daily until the pain has reduced and the ankle is fully functional.

If you feel the ankle is not returning to full mobility, or the body is compensating for the injury it would be best to see a therapist who can help you restore proper mobility and alignment.