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inversion

Ankle, foot pain, Health, Lower limb

Sprained Ankle – Heal Fast and Strong with Self Treatment

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Treating a sprained ankle the RIGHT way early on means a stronger ankle, faster recovery and less chance of re-injury. In this series, I will tell you what a sprained ankle involves, the most effective self-treatment and the best rehab exercises to get you back out there!

This post is Level 1 but when you need to step it up after the first 48-72 hours, switch over to the Level 2 and Level 3 rehab exercises. Alternatively, you can skip the hassle and download our comprehensive Sprained Ankle Recovery Guide

First of all, a little information about what a sprained ankle involves, but if you are in the know about Sprains already, skip the info and scroll down to Self – Treatment

Sprained ankles are known by a few different names:

  • Twisted ankle
  • Rolled ankle
  • Lateral ankle sprain
  • Inversion ankle sprain
  • And of course “Oh no!”

The most common type of sprained ankle is the lateral ankle sprain (85%), and that is what we are going to discuss and sort out today.

Mechanism of injury: The plain and simple is that a sprained ankle is typically when your foot is forced inwards (inversion) and down at the same time. This often happens when changing direction, turning and/or on uneven surfaces). This puts the ligaments under too much stress too fast which causes a tear of one or more of your ankle ligaments.

sprained ankle - lateral ligaments

 

Quick anatomy: The lateral (outer) ankle has 3 ligaments supporting, with the weakest of these (and so most often injured) being the ATFL. The ATFL is the Ligament at the front of the ankle shown here and in most simple sprains, this is the one torn with or without the ligament below it.

 

Sprained ankle recovery time: The general recovery time is 2-6 weeks (if looked after properly). Keep in mind, even if it feels bad now if you do all the right things you will be one of the 95% who returns to sport and activity within 6 weeks.

 

Not taking ankle rehab seriously often leads to far too many chronic ankles, long-term disability and other injuries so YOU NEED TO TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!

Note: it is important to rule out fractures early on. An accurate way of doing this is using the Ottawa ankle rules, or going to see your local Physio for a quick assessment – These rules are great for minimizing unnecessary X-rays.

 

Sprained Ankle Self – treatment

Initial management: In the first 72 hours it is very important to follow the RICE and HARM principles – This

will take weeks off your recovery.

Do: POLICE

This has changed from the previous RICE recommendation, see more on this HERE.

POLICE acute ankle sprain treatment heal fast

Note: Don’t wear compression at night time

Don’t: HARM

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running
  • Massage

HARM increases blood flow to the area, worsening inflammation and so causing more secondary damage and a longer healing time.

Protect: Braces have been proven to reduce re-injury rate and improve recovery so check out your options here

Keep moving (within reason of course) – It is important not to baby sprained ankles and start weight-bearing through them as soon as possible. This helps to normalize movement and decrease the loss of muscle activity. If necessary you may need to be on crutches for the first 24-72 hours then move to partial weight-bearing and then full weight-bearing.

Foot paddling is a great exercise to do in these early days – In sitting or lying, simply point your toes up then down repeatedly in a pain-free range. You can try doing small circles with your foot also, remember not to push into pain. Do this every 1-2 hours (little and often)

Footwear: Wearing good supportive footwear with heel and arch support(such as your runners) is great as this takes the pressure off the injured ligaments and lets them heal well. DO NOT WEAR HIGH HEELS (Please!).

AND THEN: After the first 48-72 hours of doing this, click over to the next stage of rehab exercises to get started rehabilitating your sprained ankle or skip the hassle and download our comprehensive Sprained Ankle Recovery Guide.

 

And remember you still use ice after the first few days whenever it is sore or swollen.

 


Back pain

Sciatica | Immediate Relief with Traction

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sciatica treatment with inversion tableSciatica is one of the most painful, common and debilitating nerve pains there is. Luckily, an effective treatment method is right at your fingertips.

Half the patients we see in our clinic our back pain patients and sciatica is a common issue, causing a lot of pain and limitation.

But there is something else that we have noticed as well, often, a patient with sciatica has come in for a follow up significantly better after using an Inversion Table of a friend or family member. The nerve pain has improved markedly afterward.

Due to this, we started looking into it further, and even though there isn’t any high-level solid research showing that it works every time, there is both theoretical and anecdotal evidence to say that it really does help relieve sciatica and low back pain.


Note: Various forms of lumbar traction has been used for the relief of pain since the time of Hippocrates. So this is in no way a new thing. It is now just far more accessible!


Sciatica is not a diagnosis

Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying back pathology. That helps a lot in understanding how traction and inversion tables help relieve back pain and sciatica.

The nerve pain that people with sciatica feel are pain referral due to nerve irritation or compression somewhere higher up in the low back by the real cause. This underlying cause is what needs to be treated.

Often sciatica and other forms of back-related pain are due to a number of underlying pathologies, including:

  • Stenosis – Narrowing of the spine, where the nerves travel through
  • Spondylosis – This is effectively Osteoarthritis of the spine
  • Degenerated discs
  • Herniated or prolapsed discs

Note: You do not need to have sciatica or nerve pain for this to be relevant to you.

How Inversion tables actually helps sciatica

how traction tables help low back pain, sciatica

Short answer:

By inverting your body, your spine is tractioned. This improves the space around the nerves as well as stimulating healing and flow of fluid.

Long answer:

Traction of the vertebrae changes the position of the nucleus pulposus. This is the gooey part of your intervertebral disc. Tractioning the vertebra has been shown to improve space and reduce pressure on the disc. This also increases the area of the lateral foramen where the spinal nerves exit.(1) It isn’t known how well this maintains once full bodyweight is back on your spine though.

We often get asked for recommendations, so here is a quick link to the most popular, most affordable Inversion table on Amazon:

 sciatica treatment with tilt tableAre inversion tables safe to use

When instructions are followed, yes they are.

The main things to remember are to have someone with you to help if needed and check with your GP first to ensure there are no medical issues that may not be able to handle the change in position, such as a cardiac condition.

How far should you tilt on an inversion table

Studies show that you need to have at least 26% of your body weight force on your spine to achieve an effect on your low back.

Maitland suggests 30-45kg weight to be ideal on average, so it does not need to be your entire body weight and often just part of half way can achieve the required effect.(2)

Conclusion

The evidence is inconclusive on traction and inversion tables but anectdotally and theoretically that can be beneficial in helping relieve low back pain and sciatica. If you have had experience with low back pain and inversion therapy, let us know how it helped you.

Looking for more? We have compiled all the best info in one, complete, evidence based rehab guide


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