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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.

 


Health, running

5 Must Know Expert Tips For Trail Running

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trail running shaun clark physioprescriptionExperienced runners have learnt these lessons the hard way and I wish I’d known them at the start. If you are new to trail running or want to improve further, these tips will give you a great head-start.

Trail running is something I love doing, for a few reasons: The mental challenge or the long runs, the variation in terrain (meaning less chance of over-use injury) and the awesome scenery. But the thing is that it can make you sore, going down hill can play havoc on you knees and back and transitioning from the flat to going up and down repeatedly is tough, plain and simple. These next 5 tips will really help you keep going and improving with this awesome sport but really aims to decrease the load on your knees and run with better economy – Give them a go on your next few training runs and no doubt you will find them a lot easier once you get used to it.

 

1. Cash in down hill

Heading down hill is your chance to, 1. Catch your breath and 2. Make up time. Gravity is on your side here so don’t fight it – increase your pace as much as is comfortable on downhill. It is important to train for the downhill just as you would for attacking the uphill slopes – This builds the eccentric strength of your quads so that they can handle the load. Lastly – Enjoy running downhill, it is a lot of fun, a great chance to run fast and a great training alteration.

Don’t battle against the terrain. Use it to your advantage.

2. Upright torso, don’t cramp up your diaphragm

Going uphill is hard but we often make it harder on ourselves by looking down at the ground and bending our torso forward.

So to make uphill running a lot easier and open up our lungs better – maintain an upright torso and look up the slope.

 

3. Sit back and cycle downhill

This is so important, and will allow you to do number one a lot easier and with less pain afterwards! Here is what you need to do on the downhill:

  • Don’t over-stride – This will cause you to land with your foot in front of your knees and your leg straighter – basically acting like a brake, slowing your pace and stressing your knees and back big time.
  • Increase your cadence, this the turn over rate of your feet. Increase your turnover, taking quicker steps.
  • Visualize your feet landing behind you, this will help your feet land under your torso.

This is often called downhill cycling as you are taking faster steps and sitting back into it a little (leaning back).

Tip: If you want to slow down or be in more control, don’t brake through straight legs, sit back or lean back more – this will help slow you down and put you  in control.

 

4. Conserve uphill

Walk when you need to on the steep bits and keep you feet turning over and heels kicking up for the rest of the up-hill – remember you are going to make up the time on the flat and downhills!

 

5. Cadence and kick your heels up to trip less.

Maintaining an economical cadence helps get you through those longer runs and maintain a good technique. When on the flats, try to maintain a cadence of around 90 steps per minute on each foot. This cadence means less force up your shin because you are landing with your foot below your knee and not in front and it means you are kicking your heels up more and taking shorter strides – which ultimately means that you are in more control and there is less chance of tripping and ending up being very sore.

 

Above all, enjoy yourself and smile – it makes it a lot easier.

 


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