What to do (and not to do) with a nagging ankle sprain

Aches and pains can turn into a serious injury if left unaddressed.  Sometimes a few things done correctly and incorrectly can allow for a quick recovery.  Sometimes nagging injuries can be tough to deal with and are frustrating but once again, things you do and do not do can make a difference in having it go away, or become something worse that you are forced to deal with and will limit every day activities.

Ankle sprains that don’t heal and nagging ankle injuries that can make it difficult to walk.  This difficult to walk can lead to limping which can then cause knee pain, hip pain and back pain if the nagging ankle pain is left untreated.  So, while it can be ignored for awhile you need to address it.

Lingering ankle injuries or nagging ankle injuries are common.  You roll your ankle, step off a curb wrong, step on a rock and so on.  Many things can cause the initial injury but sometimes that initial injury leaves issues that are never really resolved.  It can lead to the ache, pain or stiffness.

When you have a nagging ankle injury you are trying to fix you should never walk bare foot or wear flipflops.  You want to make sure that you give your foot and ankle some support which sneakers can do and flip flops and bare foot are unable to do.

Your foot has very intricate structures that respond to the cushion and the type of shoe that you wear.  Wearing a sneaker or a walking shoe gives your foot the support it needs.  Barefoot and flip flops do not allow the muscles, joints and ligaments in your foot to work properly.  Even walking barefoot in the house can cause the pain to continue.  It is very important to watch the footwear that you wear.

Another thing you want to do when you have a nagging ankle injury is put some ice on it.  If you have pain in your ankle, you should put ice on it.  Elevate the ankle and ice it for about 10 minutes, preferably at the end of the day.  This will help the ankle and help reduce the inflammation and that will allow some of the motion to return to the ankle.

The next thing that you can do is range of motion.  If you watch the video below you will see how you are able to assist some of the joints of the ankle in order to help the range of motion.  Start by kneeling on the good leg and then placing the foot of the injured ankle flat on the floor in front of the leg.  Then you want to put your thumbs on the outside bones of the ankle.  As you lunge forward onto the bad ankle push backward on the 2 bones on the outside of the ankle.

This may be uncomfortable.  If you cannot tolerate the pressure on the two bones, then take your thumbs off the bones and then just lunge over the injured ankle.  Go as far as you can until it is as far as it can go or until it is too painful to go any further.  Do 20-30 repetitions at least once a day to help open the ankle up.

The final thing that you want to do for ankle injuries or any type of nagging injury in your ankle is balance.   Poor balance is not hereditary.  Balance though must be trained.  Just like a muscle, if you don’t work on balance it will become poor.  Balance is not hereditary nor is it something that you have without practice.  You need to practice balance for it to be good.

Training your balance is important so you do not have overuse your muscles in order to compensate for poor balance.  If there is a lack of balance your muscles must work harder and therefore your ligaments and joints must work differently and this can keep an ankle issue unresolved.

You should be able to balance with your eyes open and your eyes closed.  You want to practice with your eyes closed because when you are walking or moving around your eyes are not fixated on one point.  You are looking at your phone, you are looking around so if you just practice balance with your eyes open and fixated on one point then you will not have good balance when you are walking around and not fixating on one point.

You can work on your balance when you are brushing your teeth and standing on one foot.  You do not have to take time out of your day to practice balance.  You can incorporate it into the activities you do every day.  Washing the dishes, folding the wash, activities that are done on a regular basis, you can do standing on one leg.  You need to practice balance every day.

If you have any ankle sprain in Hatfield or ankle pain in Montgomery County or Bucks County PA and want to schedule a free consultation at Total Performance Physical Therapy, all you have to do is call (215) 997-9898.


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