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Are you prone to ankle sprains? Here’s why and what you need to do!

Are you prone to ankle sprains? Here’s why and what you need to do!

Ankle sprains can be quite irritating because they limit your mobility due to the pain and loss of proprioception which is the bodies ability to sense movement within joints and joint position. Ankle injuries are very common and have the same chance of occurrence if you are walking to a tube station or participating in a sporting activity. If you are armed with the right information, you can successfully avoid this injury and save up on the time which would otherwise be lost on recovery from such an injury.

Common causes of ankle sprains

Ankle sprains are caused by damage to the ligaments that connect the bones in the foot, ankle and lower leg. Damage to the ligaments might be caused by unnatural stretching of the ankle to a point where it cannot take it anymore and as a result, the ligament tears, strains and may even cause an evulsion fracture which is a fracture caused by the tearing off of a bone fragment along with the ligaments . There are three most common types of ankle sprain injuries – inverted, everted and high ankle injury.

Inversion injury is the most frequently occurring ankle injury which is caused by the outward protrusion of the ankle, while rest of the foot is positioned inwards. This abnormal stretching leads to ligament tear on the lateral side of the ankle. The eversion injury, though less common, occurs when the ankle is stretched inwards while rest of the foot is positioned outwards, damaging the inside ligaments. The high ankle sprain is the most uncommon injury of the three types. It is caused when the foot is placed firmly, blocking movement and the leg is turned inwards tearing the upper ligaments.

Severity of the injury

The severity of the injury is measured from the amount of damage caused to the ligaments. Here is the classification of the injury based on damage:

  • Grade I

An injury is classified as grade I when the ligament is slightly stretched or torn causing mild tenderness of the ankle

  • Grade II

A grade II injury involves greater damage to the ligament, but is short of a complete tear, causing severe pain while walking.

  •  Grade III

This injury involves complete tear of the ligament causing severe swelling. Walking is not possible with this injury because of the intense pain inflicted.

Preventing ankle sprains

There is no specific activity that can be singled out as a cause of ankle sprain and hence, you need to be careful when performing any day-to-day chores, but there are some exercises that can help to strengthen the muscles in and around your ankle joints. The use of a wobble board or an airex pad are a few pieces of equipment that your therapist may have you use to recover after an injury but you can strengthen this area in an attempt to prevent these types of injuries.

  • Taping and bracing

Taping and bracing is highly debated in the in the medical world for its effectiveness, but athletes who tape and brace their legs before any intensive physical activity have reported less ankle sprains. Taping or bracing your ankle before any intensive physical activity can prove to be effective against ankle sprains.

  • Choosing proper footwear

Choose a piece of footwear that you are comfortable in and not the one which adds to your fashion quotient. Shoes with higher heels are more prone to ankle sprain then those with a more flat base. Wear your gym trainers whenever possible to give your ankle utmost comfort.

  • Warm up before physical activity

Basic warm up exercises for preventing ankle sprain include ankle rotations (clockwise and anti-clockwise), ankle twists and side to side ankle movements. Always jog a little, for 2-3 minutes, before starting a physical activity. You can also stretch out your lower extremities to help in preventing these injuries.

  • Stay away from uneven surfaces

If you have to traverse uneven surfaces, make sure you walk carefully by avoiding the bumpy patches. Ankle injuries while jogging at open spaces is a common scenario.

  • Know your limits

While performing physical activity, there are times when your ankle or foot might get strained. When this happens, the best thing to do is to stop the activity and continue it only when you feel your ankle is healthy.

All it takes is a twist of an angle to cause a sprain. With these tips, you should be able to avoid such an injury.