Ankle sprains aren’t exclusive to professional athletes. If you’ve recreationally played sports, jog or exercise, or even if you’ve just tripped, you’ve probably run into a sprained ankle at least once. In fact, even if you walk, you’re at risk of sustaining an ankle sprain. For instance, women that walk in high heels are at greater risk of spraining their ankles (they’re also generally at a higher risk than men).
However, ankle sprains are still especially prevalent in sports. They’re responsible for approximately 15% of all sports injuries. Here’s how ankle sprains occur, how to prevent them, and how a physical therapist can help.
How Do Ankle Sprains Occur?
Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments supporting them are damaged or overstretched. Ligaments are sheets of fibrous tissue that connect bones and help keep them stable and together. The most common causes of damage to the ligaments supporting the ankles are twisting, landing on uneven ground, or placing too much force on the joint.
For instance, when you jump while playing basketball, you may land on one foot before the other. If your landing isn’t stable, your ankle can roll over or twist beyond its safe range of motion. That’ll stretch and damage the ligament. Another example is if you’re practicing an Olympic exercise, such as the snatch. Performing the snatch involves your feet leaving the ground and landing with a lot of weight. If improperly distributed, this can sprain the ankle.
What Are the Symptoms of an Ankle Sprain?
Though this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are the most common signs of an ankle sprain:
- Limited ankle range of motion
- Inability to place weight on the ankle
- Inflammation and swelling
- Mild-to-severe ankle pain
- Ankle instability
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
The recovery timeline depends on the severity of the sprain. There are three kinds of sprains. Grade 1 occurs when the ligaments are slightly overstretched or damage. Grade 2 occurs when the ligament is partially torn. Lastly, a grade 3 sprain is when the ligament is completely torn. Generally, the higher the grade, the more involved the physical therapist has to be and the longer the recovery timeline will be.
Physical therapists can help in the following ways:
- Soft tissue massage and joint mobilization to help restore range of motion
- RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) advice
- Improving balance and proprioception through exercise
- Electrical therapy
- General strength training
If you’ve sprained your ankle in Augusta, GA, get in touch with us at Healing Hands Physical Therapy Centers, Inc. We provide sports injury rehab, as well as physical therapy services for women, active living programs for seniors, and more.