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Don't Ignore Ankle Sprains: The Ripple Effect on Your Body

Updated: Apr 5

The sprained ankle, for some reason doesn’t get the respect it deserves when compared to the knee, back or neck. I don’t understand why!

Neglecting to address an ankle sprain can lead to a cascade of problems throughout the body, affecting other joints, muscles, and even your overall movement patterns. Here's why it's crucial to take ankle sprains seriously and address them promptly to prevent further issues in other body parts.

  • Compensatory Movements: When you sprain your ankle, the natural response is to favor the uninjured side to reduce pain and discomfort. This often leads to altered movement patterns, such as limping or shifting weight to the opposite side. Over time, these compensatory movements can place stress on other joints, particularly the knee, hip, and lower back, leading to overuse injuries and chronic pain.

  • Muscle Imbalances: An ankle sprain can disrupt the balance of strength and flexibility in the muscles surrounding the joint. Weakness in the muscles that support the ankle, such as the calf muscles and peroneals, can increase the risk of recurrent sprains and instability. Meanwhile, tightness in the muscles of the lower leg can affect movement mechanics and contribute to dysfunction in other areas of the body.

  • Chronic Instability: Untreated ankle sprains can lead to chronic instability, making you more susceptible to future injuries. Each subsequent sprain further weakens the ligaments and increases the risk of developing conditions like osteoarthritis and chondral lesion in the ankle joint. Chronic instability can also impact your confidence and willingness to engage in physical activity, leading to a cycle of inactivity and further deconditioning.

Addressing the injury early can help minimise these disruptions and expedite your return to normal function. In conclusion, ankle sprains should not be brushed off as minor injuries. They have the potential to disrupt the entire kinetic chain and lead to a host of problems throughout the body. By seeking appropriate treatment and rehabilitation, you can prevent further issues in other body parts and ensure a speedy and successful recovery.

If you've just sprained your ankle, remember to follow the P.R.I.C.E acronym immediately after the injury for the first 48-72 hours.

  • Protection: Brace or tape the ankle to limit sideways movement (scroll down to learn how to tape your ankle).

This sideways movement generally puts stress on the recently damaged ligaments whose job is to protect you from this movement. The reality is you won’t get any healing of these ligaments until after 3 days and even after that it is still very weak. So limit these movements as much as possible.the ligaments a chance to settle down.

  • Rest: Avoid prolonged standing or walking. Normally at this point, it is very swollen so REST. Again because you have no new tissue laid down for the first 3 days limit the damage done.

  • Ice: Apply ice to the injured area for 15 minutes every 3 waking hours with the leg elevated above your heart to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Compression: Apply an elastic bandage or tubing when you are not icing your ankle to control the swelling. Don’t sleep with the compression but use it whenever weight bearing or sitting at your desk.

  • Elevation: Lie flat and elevate the leg to an angle of 30 degrees often. Your leg must be above your heart on a couple of pillows with you flat on your back for it to drain effectively.

Don't ignore your ankle sprain – your body will thank you in the long run. Book an assessment today!

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