“Coach, I just rolled my ankle!”
“Ah...Throw some ice on it, get it taped up, and get back out on the field!”
Unfortunately, this scenario is very true and happens too often! I have to admit, I am one of those athletes that would regularly sprain an ankle, and play through it. I would get it taped, wear a brace, advil and ice as much as possible in order to keep playing. Knowing what I know now, that is probably the worst thing I could have done for the health of my ankles and even the health of the rest of my body!
Did you know that when an ankle rolls, sometimes the ligaments will stretch out or even tear completely. When this happens, the foot and ankle will continue to be able to bear weight and you’ll be able to walk on it; however, the stability of that ankle is extremely compromised and you’re more likely to injure yourself again or injure it even worse the next time.
Typically the ankle will swell up like a balloon, bruising will settle in around the ankle, and even down into the foot. The ankle becomes painful to the touch, and even painful when walking. A lot of the time, people will seek X Rays to make sure nothing is fractured or broken. This practice really is not necessary, but in certain cases it is warranted. By skipping your visit to the MD you’ll be able to start your Physical Therapy sooner. Let the qualified Physical Therapist take a look at the ankle first and if they feel the X Rays are necessary, they will refer you out to the orthopedic doctor (Pro Tip: “We got a guy!” we can get you in and seen sooner by the MD if needed.)
Alright a few weeks have passed, the swelling is down, the bruising is gone and you’re walking more normal. Time to get back on the field?? Maybe?! More times than not, the ankle joint and the mechanics of the ankle joint are still dysfunctional and not working properly. For example, the ankle needs to have enough range of motion to allow for the knee to go forward past your toes (see image). This is essential in proper health of the ankle, and return to activities or sports. Did you know if your ankle doesn’t move enough in this direction, you are at a higher risk of injury! Yep, you’re going to get hurt if you can’t do this!
So quit trying to play through injury, only to put yourself at higher risk of re-injury and further damage! Get yourself down to your Physical Therapist after you sprain your ankle, let them evaluate the situation and get you on the road to recovery quicker, sooner, and safely.