Ankle sprains are some of the most common but often underrated injuries with regard to their severity. Often you hear of people who just say to “rest it up”, “strap it up”, or “just stay off it and you’ll get better”. This couldn’t be further from the truth in my opinion. Ankle sprains should be treated with the same approach as we do any other ligament injury or muscle injury. We should approach treatment with the intent to maximise your rehabilitation and reduce your risk of re-injury rather than the lackadaisical approach some clients take.
The recurrence rate for ankle injuries has been speculated to be as high as 73%, and a prevalence of 25% for the presence of chronic ankle instability with a range between 7% and 53%. I don’t hear many people who have chronically rolling ankles telling me how much they love it, so surely doing a good job of rehabilitation the first time around and minimising your risk. Getting an early assessment and diagnosis by a physiotherapist is the first key, our hands-on diagnostic skills are integral and we are also able to recommend whether we believe further imaging may be needed.
The level of assessment that we work up to is highly individual and dependent upon symptoms and irritability. In most cases we won’t be assessing higher load activities such as hopping on the first assessment, I have simply included it in the list to give you a guide of what may be included at later dates.
Returning to training should then be a graded process. Of course, when I’m talking about returning to training I’m talking about working back into gameplay scenarios. Prior to this you can and should be doing some sport-specific work on your own. Often on initial return to gameplay training, I would be looking to have either ankle strapping or a brace in place.
Returning to sport is the bigger decision. Some people view this as a very black-and-white decision but unfortunately, I think there is a lot more to it than just “can you return to sport?” I often think of it as a risk:reward scenario, how risky is the decision vs what is the potential reward? If it’s early in the season I may often tend towards giving someone an extra week off if I think they will be better off for it. Whereas if it’s the semi-final it’s a do-or-die, the risk is higher, but so is the reward for the athlete. Ultimately the choice isn’t solely mine. The athlete and the coach must also be consulted to ensure they are on board with the decision and happy to play with whatever risk may be there.
Probably the most common question I tend to get asked by clients who’ve suffered an ankle sprain is “should I tape it or buy a brace?”. Personally, I don’t find there’s a huge difference in the overall result, with the result being preventing future injuries. Personally, I find it is much more of a comfort decision, I find taping much more comfortable than a brace due to the somewhat bulky nature of braces. I also find that taping can be personalised a lot easier with varying amounts of tension and angles that the tape can be applied to ensure the athlete feels secure.
Often I find the reason athletes or parents opt for a brace is purely and simply the ease of them. It is much easier to slip on a brace, tighten two velcro straps and do up some laces. Totally much easier I completely agree, but I feel there should be more to the decision than just “how can I make my life easier?” when we are talking about the prevention of injuries.
At the end of the day, it is a personal decision and neither is wrong, both have shown positive effects with regard to reducing future injury risk. As long as you are choosing one that you are comfortable with and you will use, I’m happy.
Our 3-week program was designed for clients who have suffered an acute injury and want to get out of pain ASAP. This package could be suitable for clients who have sustained a low-grade ATFL or CFL sprain or potentially a combination of the two.
Our 3-week program is inclusive of the following:
Package price: $770
Our 6-week program is designed for clients who have sustained a higher-grade injury and want to not only rehabilitate their injury but also address causative factors and ensure a safe return to sport. Injuries such as an ATFL or CFL sprain, a medial ankle sprain, or a low to mid-grade high ankle sprain would respond well to this treatment package.
Our 6-week program is inclusive of the following:
Package price: $1050
Our 12-week program is designed for clients who have sustained higher-grade injuries and want to address causative factors but also want to return to sport as a more complete athlete than what they were when they got injured. Injuries such as a fracture or high-grade multi-ligament injuries such as a combined CFL and ATFL sprain, or higher-grade high ankle sprains would respond well to this treatment block.
Our 12-week program is inclusive of the following: