The summer sport season is in full swing, and that means we are seeing a common issue - ankle injuries. Is there a natural treatment to help your sprained ankle heal? Can chiropractic help? Absolutely!
The Anatomy of the Ankle
It might seem relatively simple, but the ankle is complex and made up of several different joints. There are four main bones, including the talus, the calcaneus, the fibula (distal end), and the tibia (distal end). The ankle joints include several tendons and ligaments of associated muscles, like the anterior tibia (shin) and gastrocnemius (calf) muscles. The ankle's main motion is a hinge joint with two main movements, plantar flexion (up) and dorsiflexion (down). Additionally, there are associated movements such as eversion (image the pinky toe turning out and the top of the foot facing the other foot) and inversion (imagine turning the ankle in with the big toe moving toward the knee and bottom of the foot turning inward.
Common Ankle Injuries
Perhaps the most common injury we see is an inversion sprain. These sprains are most frequently seen in sports-related injuries, particularly sports that involve running or those that require the athlete to rotate or stop and change directions quickly. A sprain is when there is an injury to the ligaments of the joints and the fibers are stretched or pulled beyond normal capacity. An inversion sprain occurs when the ankle rolls inward, like when you are walking on the sidewalk and your foot catches the edge of the curb and your ankle buckles. Basically, the sole of the foot moves inward toward the other foot and the outside ligaments of the joints suffer trauma.
Many of us are familiar with the discomfort of ankle injuries. So what can you do to promote healing?
- Rest Up - Time to take it easy and decrease your activity levels. That doesn't mean you get a free pass to sit on the couch with your foot propped up binge-watching Netflix. But it does mean that you can spend less time on your feet and avoid workouts other than light walking. We can suggest some easy exercises to help with your range of motion. While you're resting, remember to very gently move your foot side to side and up and down every so often.
- Ice - Right after your injury and for the next 3-5 days, introduce ice as a regular part of your self-care. Cover an ice pack in a towel and put it on your injured ankle for roughly 15 minutes, or just enough so that your ankle and ligaments feel really cold, then take one hour off. Repeat this process 3-4 times throughout the day.
- Chiropractic Adjustments - Chiropractic treatments and adjustments for the lower extremities, including the ankle joint, can help increase your range of motion and decrease the amount of time it takes to heal. Many patients report a decrease in pain, and if you've been following our blog, you know there are many benefits of chiropractic care for athletes beyond the treatment of sports-related injuries.
- Rehabilitation - Once the swelling has gone down and you're back to moving around, you might forget that it's the ideal time to begin rehabbing your ankle joint. Routine strength exercises and stretches will help to restore balance, which will help your ankle return to full normal function.
Ankle injuries are incredibly common, whether you are practicing sports or not. Most of us have experienced the pain of an ankle sprain and know how important it is to heal both quickly and fully. Our team will be happy to heal your ankle sprain and get you back on track!