Simple Ways to Treat or Prevent an Ankle Sprain | STACK Fitness

Simple Ways to Treat or Prevent an Ankle Sprain

July 26, 2013 | Kelvin King Jr.

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

A sprained ankle is one of the most common joint injuries, prompting many athletes to consider it "just a sprain" and not treat it with the respect it deserves. The consequences of this neglect are persistent weakness, instability in the joint and the likelihood of repeated sprains. Ankle sprains are so often mistreated (or not treated at all), that experts say they have the highest recurrence rate of any joint injury, and they can result in chronic symptoms.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association met with experts responsible for the ankle health of college athletes, reviewing the evidence for various methods assumed to help prevent recurrent ankle sprains. Their conclusion? Ankle sprains need more rehabilitation and take longer to heal than most athletes allow. Think now, how many athletes are playing with injured ankles?

Dr. Tricia Hubbard, of the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, expressed concern that 30 to 40 percent of athletes with simple ankle sprains develop chronic long-term injuries. Her research showed that with any ankle sprain, the ankle should be immediately immobilized to protect the joint and allow the reinjured ligaments to heal—and remain immobilized for at least week for a simple ankle sprain, 10 to 14 days for a moderate sprain, and four to six weeks for a severe sprain.

A sprain results when ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range. In a severe sprain, the elastic fibers tear partly or completely. In sports, common causes include coming down wrong after a jump shot or rebound; stepping on another player's foot; and making quick directional changes, as in tennis, basketball, football, and soccer.

Classification of Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are categorized in three grades, depending on their severity.

  • Grade I: Some stretching and possibly slight tearing. Little or no instability of the joint. Mild pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Grade II: Some tearing of the ligaments and moderate instability of the joint. Moderate to severe pain, swelling and joint stiffness.
  • Grade III: Total rupture of ligament(s) and severe instability of the joint. Severe pain and swelling, extreme joint stiffness.

Grade III sprains require immobilization for several weeks. Surgical repair or reconstruction may be necessary.

As with other such injuries, the recommended first aid for an ankle sprain, which should start as soon as possible after the injury, goes by the acronym RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

An athletic trainer will prescribe RICE, a period of immobilization of the ankle and rehabilitation exercises. He or she will also decide whether the athlete should see a doctor or physical therapist.

Exercise Progression to Manage, Prevent and Treat Ankle Sprains

Athletes and their trainers must take the proper steps to manage, prevent and treat ankle injuries. Below are various prehab and/or rehab exercises for an ankle sprain, arranged in a progression. They can be done on your own before and after activity.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Seated Ankle Banded Stretches

Standard Toe and Heel Walks

On toes forward, pigeon toe, and toes pointed out; then heel walks in same patterns.

Alphabets - Upper Case and Lower Case

For serious ankle injuries, perform the ankle alphabet. It promotes range of motion and flexibility and builds strength before the athlete resumes activity.

Ankle Octagon Quick Foot Taps - Various Directions

The following progressions are done after a session or game to ensure ankle mobility, keeping the ankle loose and functional until the athlete can get home and rest it.

Standing Ankle Banded Stretches

Tim Grover's Quick Seated Ankle-Banded Stretches

Learn more about treating and preventing ankle sprains:

Kelvin King Jr.
- Kelvin King, Jr. is the owner of Creative Athletic Movements, a
 sports performance training business. He also serves as a sports performance specialist for St....
Kelvin King Jr.
- Kelvin King, Jr. is the owner of Creative Athletic Movements, a
 sports performance training business. He also serves as a sports performance specialist for St....
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

If you're around hockey players enough, you'll often hear them complain about lower back pain, or tightness in their hip flexors. This is often the...

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests