Ankle Sprains

The ankle joint forms the connection between the 2 bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula- and the talus bone on the top of the foot. Proper strength and mobility of this area is critical in many athletic activities as the ankle serves as both a pivot point, and as an energy transfer station between the body and the ground. For stability, the ankle relies on a complex system of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the ankle in all directions. The muscles, which begin high in the lower leg just below the knee, have long tendons that travel down across the ankle and attach into the heel and the foot. It is these muscles that must contract to protect and stabilize the foot and ankle. When there is adequate strength, flexibility, and balance of these muscles the chances of injury is greatly reduced.

An ankle sprain refers to the tearing of the ligaments of the ankle. Ankle sprains come in two forms – inversion sprains and eversion sprains. Inversion sprains are most common.  Although traditional approaches, such as icing and elevating the ankle are necessary within the first 24 to 48 hours, treatment beyond that is crucial.

The body responds to tissue injury in a very predictable way – by laying down new tissue to repair the damaged tissue. The body repairs the strained tissue by laying down small amounts of scar tissue in and around the injured area. The scar tissue itself is not a problem – in fact it is a normal and necessary part of healing. The problem occurs when the ankle is subjected to the same high workload due to the continued, repetitive, high force. This in turn causes the same muscles to become strained and subsequently repaired over and over again. Over time this scar tissue will build-up and accumulate. This results in restriction and compensated movements.

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