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Anke Sprains- Rehabilitation and Returning to Sport


With winter sports here, Sports Podiatrist Natasha Knox is covering all things rehab & return to sport following ankle sprains.


Once a diagnosis has been made following an ankle sprain, treatment largely depends on the extent of the injury and the current symptoms. Initial treatment is aimed at reducing pain and swelling, which may include a period of immobilisation using a controlled ankle motion (CAM) boot, and/or crutches. Once symptoms are stable, and severe injuries such as fractures, cartilage injuries, or tears of ligaments have been treated appropriately, rehabilitation can commence.


Rehabilitation of ankle sprains is aimed at:


· Restoring range of motion at the ankle joint

· Strengthening the muscles that support the ankle structure

· Improving balance and the ability of the ankle to main alignment on unstable surfaces

· Strengthening the muscles of the entire lower limb, such as the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and calf which may weaken following a period of immobilisation


Ankle sprain rehabilitation may involve some of the following exercises and activities:


· Ankle range of motion exercises which aim to restore motion about specific directions of movement

· Strengthening using a theraband with the completion of specific movements against resistance

· balance exercises with the use of a bosu ball or wobble board

· Lower limb strength exercises such as single leg squatting, calf raises, and glute exercises which are tailored towards the activity the person is aiming to return to


Returning to sport following an ankle sprain is a decision which requires careful assessment and planning. There are several criteria which may be used to assist in decision making, some of which include:


· No associated pain at the foot and ankle

· Range of motion and strength testing within 90% of the other ankle

· Adequate postural stability at the ankle and lower limb

· Achievement of functional tests such as hop tests, agility tests and landing stability tests



Returning to sport too early after a sprain may result in a flareup of the previous injury site, ongoing pain or instability, or a higher risk of sustaining another sprain. Podiatrists are trained in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of ankle sprains and often work with physiotherapists and exercise physiologists in order to deliver the best possible treatment plan following a sprain. To book in with Natasha our sports Podiatrist - click here.



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