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A Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle is very common. There are over 9 million a year. You can get a sprained ankle very easily in today’s world, even though the surfaces we walk on have become very flat and stable. Think about what people had to walk on a few hundred years ago, especially in more natural settings. They lived their whole lives walking on uneven ground and unstable surfaces. This made their ankles very strong and flexible. today, we wear stiff, uncomfortable shoes and walk on perfectly even surfaces most of our lives. So, when we take a bad step or trip, it is very easy to get a sprained ankle. And obviously, a sprained ankle is very common with athletes, especially those who have weakened and inflexible ankles from previous injuries.
So, what exactly happens when you sprain an ankle? Well, the ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones in the correct position forming a very mobile joint that can move in all directions. These ligaments are like the glue that hold the bones together. And these ankle ligaments protect the ankle from over twisting or over turning. When you do over-twist or over-turn your ankle, these ligaments, which are kind of like rubber bands stretch too far and can tear. This is usually caused by speed and force placed on the ligaments like when you trip over someone or something and the ankle turns too far in one direction.
How does a sprained ankle happen?
Simple. You have a natural range of motion where the ligaments can stretch safely. The stronger the ligaments are and the better their mobility, the further they can stretch safely. But, immobile and weak ankles can easily twist and sprain if they land on something uneven or take a mis-step somewhere. And depending on how much force is placed on the ankle and how far the ligaments are stretched or torn, will decide how serious the sprain is on your ankle.
Here’s how it works in slow motion… you place your foot on the ground and it moves, but the ankle does not move. In other words, one of your feet is forced to turn inward or outward and the ligaments of the ankle cannot stretch far enough to match how far the foot is at that moment. When this happens, you may fall or lose your balance. It usually looks pretty bad and it will immediately cause pain. After you’ve sprained an ankle, you will immediately see a lot of swelling. Bruising tends to come little bit later on. In addition, you’ll most likely be very stiff and unable to walk normally. Depending on how badly you sprained the ankle, you may be able to walk or you may not be able to walk at all.
Why do sprained ankles happen so often?
We kind of covered that above… The modern man and woman tends to have very tight calves and weak ankles, because of the surfaces we walk on and our stiff shoes. All those natural, uneven surfaces are great for our ankles, because they challenge our stabilizer muscles which makes the ankles very strong and much less susceptible to injury. Think about it… if you don’t use something, doesn’t it get weaker and more stiff over time? Well, that is our modern lifestyle, especially with the ankles. So, if an accident happens and you land unevenly on the ground for any reason, those ankle ligaments are so weak and inflexible that it will not take much force to cause a sprain. It can be as simple as stepping off a curb wrong, or accidentally stepping on someone else’s foot.
What can I do to heal a sprained ankle?
If you have a sprained ankle, you need to understand that you actually will have a lot of damage to the area. That includes swelling, bruising, waste getting trapped, the development of scar tissue and more…. Most people usually think of rest, compression, elevation and ice when they think of a sprained ankle. But, keep in mind that ice is only effective for the first 36-48 hours. After that period of time, ice is not clinically effective anymore. So, if you are following the R.I.C.E. protocol of healing, you really can only rest your ankle from that point onward. But, as we have discussed, rest does not strengthen the ankle, nor does it improve range of motion or heal any of the other aspects of damage from the sprain.
So, assuming you do not have a fracture (you need to get an x-ray to find out) and you are ready for rehab, it is extremely important to get started right away. You will still rest and ice your ankle, but you will also do the 3 step H.E.M. Ankle Rehab system which dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to heal while also significantly improving the quality of the healing process. This is critical to healing quickly and safely. In the end, you want to make sure your ankles are healthy, because you don’t want another sprain and you don’t want to have lingering problems with your ankles. So, take care of them the right way instead of being passive and just waiting around for the ankle to try and heal by itself.