Ankle sprains are one of the most common sporting injuries accounting for approximately 25% of all sporting injuries (2). Having worked with netballers and footy players while studying I have definitely seen my fair share.
Not only are they a pain but they result in a lot of time out of whatever sport you play (plus nobody likes using uncomfortable crutches).
The most common ankle sprain is an inversion sprain where you roll over the outside of your foot and injure one, two or all three of the ligaments. These can happen from landing on someone’s foot, losing your balance on a night out or stepping on a pothole while watching the footy (like me).
After the injury your ankle will usually swell up to three times the size and turn nice and purple, which can be quite scary. This is a normal response and is actually the start of the healing process.
While those examples are hard to prevent there are ways of improving the stability in your ankle to make these injuries less likely.
One of the best ways to prevent an initial or reoccurring injury is to improve the proprioception in the ankle (1,3). Proprioception is the ability of your body or joint to know where it is in space. In other words, in this case, it is the ability to recognise if your foot is going to land correctly or not.
This isn’t something you have to think about as it is more of a subconscious process but anyone who has injured their ankle or any joint will know that feeling of being unstable when returning to activity.
An easy exercise to work on your ankle proprioception is to simply stand on one leg for 30 seconds. The less you wobble, then the better your proprioception is. If that’s too easy then you can try with your eyes closed or standing on a pillow or even both for the anyone who wants to really challenge themselves. Just doing this can help reduce the risk of an injury, just make sure you aren’t going to fall into anything dangerous when you have your eyes closed!
If you are unfortunate enough to injure your ankle then it isn’t the end of the world. The best advice is to follow the RICER protocol, start walking as soon as possible as long as you can weight-bear and then see your friendly Osteopath for some treatment and rehabilitation advice.
Blog by Damian Berenato, Osteopath at McKinnon Osteopathy. Damian worked as a sports trainer at a number of local football and netball clubs throughout his studies.
To book an appointment with Damian Click here or call on 9578 2436
- Hupperets, M., Verhagen, E., & Mechelen, W. (2009). Effect of unsupervised home based proprioceptive training on recurrences of ankle sprain: randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 339(jul09 1), b2684-b2684. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2684
- Verhagen, E. (2010). Acute lateral ankle ligament injuries. British Journal Of Sports Medicine, 44(5), 305-305. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.070805
- Verhagen, E., van der Beek, A., Twisk, J., Bouter, L., Bahr, R., & van Mechelen, W. (2004). The Effect of a Proprioceptive Balance Board Training Program for the Prevention of Ankle Sprains. The American Journal Of Sports Medicine, 32(6), 1385-1393. doi: 10.1177/0363546503262177