The Most Effective Rehabilitation Program for a Sprained Ankle
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Is it serious? Or is it not? Ankle sprains are one of those pesky injuries which on the surface appear less severe than a fracture, yet hurt to the same extent for a few minutes. Considering the busy pace of life we live in, the rest an ankle sprain requires to heal by itself is immense forcing us to take time off from work. Here are a few methods to fast-track the healing of a sprained ankle.
The PRICE Formula for ankle sprain.
PRICE stands for- Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. These processes are to be applied within 24-72 hours from the incident.
Protection- This step involves protecting your ankle from further injury using a removable plastic cast or a plaster cast, the former being more convenient.
Rest- Of course getting your work done and hitting that deadline is important. But your ankle will not heal itself if you don’t give it the necessary rest and time it takes for healing. Remember, if you lay off rest for a later time and take on some task to save time and be faster, your injury will simply get worse, probably making you completely unable to work for a time in the future. For the first day, take it slowly, move only when it is absolutely necessary to move. After enough rest, walking can be done but stay away from sports or gym for at least a week.
Ice- Applying ice-packs on your wound will help you speed up your recovery process. Apply ice-packs to the injured area for about twenty minutes every couple of hours. To give ice therapy to your ankle, the professional method is to purchase cryocuffs and similar devices. These give you an easy method of applying ice-therapy, simply wear the device on your feet and it pumps ice cold water across the injury. In case you are not to keen on purchasing such equipment, you can make your own ice-pack by adding ice to a bag or even using a frozen bag of peas.
Compression- Next on the ankle sprain rehab protocol is compression. Oftentimes, an ankle sprain is accompanied with ankle swelling. This swelling is caused due to excessive internal tissue bleeding in the ankle area. This swelling should not be allowed to stay on the ankle for long duration as it can leave excessive scar tissue, which lengthens the rehab period. Here is where compression is required. Applying adequate (not excessive) pressure on these swellings causes the internal bleeding to stop. Pressure can be applied on the ankle by using a removable plastic cast with inflatable air cells that can massage out the swelling. Alternate between compression therapy and ice therapy for better results.
Elevation- Last on the ankle sprain rehab timeline is elevation.With your leg being stationary in one place for a long time while undergoing ankle sprain rehabilitation, the effect of gravity causes tissue fluid to accumulate in the injured area. This increases pain in the area and can lengthen the time required for complete healing of the ankle sprain. As a counter-measure, the injured foot must be kept at an elevated position from the rest of the body.
Sprained Ankle Rehabilitation
This phase of ankle care is referred to as the active rehabilitation phase. During this phase, you need to actively do simple exercises to ensure complete rehabilitation of the ankle.
Isometric exercises- These are exercises where the ankle joint itself doesn’t move, yet force is applied on the necessary parts to progress rehabilitation. This helps you strengthen your ankle while not running the risk of re-spraining your ankle.
An easy isometric exercise is as follows- Sit on a chair facing a wall. Place the ball of your foot against the wall. Push against the wall to apply force on your ankle. This helps you to the apply necessary pressure to your ankle parts while also not having to completely move your ankle.
Balance Exercises– During the sprain, it is possible that you might have destroyed a few nerves present in the vicinity. These nerves are necessary for sending vital information to your brain with regards to your walking or running postures. Impaired nerves means your brain is now gauging your foot movement in a slightly miscalculated manner. This might cause you to unknowingly take the next step in a wrong manner and hurt yourself again.
To regain the synchronization between your foot and your brain, walk along a straight line in a place. ‘Straight line’ here is in a literal sense, walk along a painted straight line on the road etc. You may also walk on a balancing beam to regain your consciousness of balance.
Plyometrics– Once you’re confident about your ability to move, it is time for a few plyometric exercises. Plyometric exercises are intense exercises that strengthen your ankle against future injuries. These exercises both lengthen and contract muscles at the same time. These activities include- hopping, skipping, jumping and bounding.
Following these steps will help you get back to your daily life as quickly as possible. The PRICE protocol and the exercises for sprained ankle ligaments are excessively followed in sports circles and have the backing of physiotherapists who in turn practice it on injured sportsmen. Just make sure you never underestimate the need for quick ankle rehabilitation or might end up with an even worse ailment.