Ankle Sprains – Rehabilitation & return to sport

After you have sprained your ankle, evidence shows you are more likely to re-sprain the same ankle due to weakness; however here at TOPS we can provide rehabilitation exercises to reduce that risk significantly.

The goals of rehabilitation are:

  • Remove swelling and bruising around the ankle and lower leg.
  • Return the movement of the ankle back to full.
  • Strengthen the muscles in the foot, ankle and lower leg.
  • Re-train proprioception in the ankle and lower leg.
  • Re-educate a return to normal gait.

How do I start making it feel better?

The initial part of the rehab process starts from day one and initial advice can be found here. It is important to start weight bearing as soon as comfortable, to return back to normal walking pattern which is striking your heel first, rolling through to the front of your foot and pushing off with your toes.

You will be prescribed exercises by your physiotherapist to improve the flexibility and strength in your ankle. The exercises will be progressive to meet your own individual needs and to optimise your recovery. Throughout the rehab phase, your pain and swelling will fluctuate; this is a normal healing process and can be managed with the RICE and MEAT advice found here and here respectively.

What is proprioception?

All muscles and ligament have receptors that determine where a joint is, after any injury to a muscle or ligament the receptors become diminished in this ability. There is a constant supply of information from the joint to your brain, which in turn activates the appropriate muscles to support the joint.

The exercises used to train proprioception are mostly balance based for your ankle; this will start by standing on the affected leg and trying to maintain balance. This can be progressed or regressed depending on your ability. This is where physiotherapy equipment such as wobble boards, dura balance discs, bosu balls or balance pads are used to test your balance further. Balance can be further challenged by closing your eyes (Always remember to be safe and stand next to a support).

When can I return to sport?

A return to sports should not be considered until the ankle has full range of movement, full strength has returned and there is no longer any pain present when using the ankle.

It is normal to feel a lack of trust or confidence in your ankle, an ankle support or sports tape can be used to provide that trust. Rehabilitation exercises should still be completed to build up your body’s own support and take care not to become overly dependent on the passive supports.

We hope you found this information helpful, to get in touch with us at TOPS to ask a question or arrange an appointment contact us.

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