One Simple Trick: Re-Train Your Balance After an Ankle Sprain
November 29, 2016

Ankle sprains can happen to anyone from any background, and our clinic routinely treats these types of injuries. Sprained ankles are common for people who participate in athletic activities; however, they also occur during routine daily tasks. Ankle sprains can happen when you are at work. They can also occur when you are walking down the street and encounter a hole or soft area on the ground, which may cause your ankle to twist. Some ankle injuries are mild, but severe cases are possible.

For example, if you are training on a competitive sports team, there is a high chance that you could strain or sprain your ankle just during the course of your normal training regimen.

What is an Ankle Sprain?

This sprain is an injury to the ligaments that support the ankle. An injury occurs when these tissues are stretched beyond reasonable limits. Ligaments are tiny muscles that provide structural support. They are present on the ankle’s medial and lateral sides. They stabilize the joint by preventing the foot from bending too far inside or outside. When any ligaments are extended beyond their normal range of motion, rehabilitation therapies are necessary for restoring balance and stability.

Immediately after the ligaments are put under extreme stress, the body will generate an inflammation response. This will produce swelling, bruising and discomfort. Sprained ankles take a few weeks to heal, and most patients will be free from localized pain and inflammation within two months. Take the rehabilitation process seriously. Even after the pain recedes, instability may still remain in the various structures of support. After the inflammation subsides, you must retrain the injured ligaments so that they can support the ankle. This will restore the proper balance and support to the ankle joint, which is necessary for preventing future sprains or strains.

Rehabilitation Therapy

The process of rehabilitating a sprained or strained ankle involves restoring the over-stretched ligaments back to their proper length. These ligaments have some unique properties, and patients should understand how the rehabilitation process works based on the role of the ligaments in maintaining ankle stability. For example, the ankle ligaments can receive tremendous strain without compromising the surrounding muscles, which also attach to the ankle bones. If the ligaments are unable to support the ankle, these muscles of the lower leg will compensate accordingly.

Even after the leg muscles compensate for the injured ankle ligaments, it is still necessary to rehabilitate these important ligaments. They articulate with the bone directly, so they provide the best leverage. The muscles in the lower leg should not be doing this job. Rehabilitation exercises for the ankle ligaments can help to prevent the leg muscles from becoming fatigued by taking on the additional work load. Clinical therapy can intervene in specific ways, and this may include strengthening exercises, hydrotherapy and manual therapy.

Recommended Support Exercises

In addition to any therapeutic modalities offered through a rehabilitation clinic, you should also practice specific exercises that maintain any benefits gained through clinical intervention. It might surprise you that one of the best home exercises for strained ankles involves a simple activity that was popular in many K-12 physical education classes. You can always benefit from standing on one leg, but this is an incredibly beneficial exercise after you experience a sprained ankle.

How To Practice

When you stand on a single foot, your foot will automatically start to build the areas that support good balance. This is a good exercise to do when you are distracted by something else. For example, you can benefit by standing on one foot while cooking, brushing your teeth or reading a book. Your injury happened while you were distracted, so your therapy should also be done while your focus is on another activity.

This is an excellent exercise for maintenance because rehabilitating the ankle requires regular practice. This exercise is easy to learn and simple to practice. Patients are more likely to practice standing on one foot than a set of complex exercises that require additional learning. Every good rehabilitation regimen requires regular practice. This is simple enough that it can be done every single day. Contact us for additional information.