One of the most common injuries in athletes is a sprained ankle. The ankle is a joint that bears all the weight of our body through it. It needs to be strong and stable but often times because of overuse or due to the natural alignment one may have (a high arched foot) , the ankle can become unstable. Ankle sprains commonly occur on the outside region of the ankle. This is due to the fact that there is less stability through this region. We call this a lateral ankle sprain. The ankle joint is made of 3 important ligaments. Ligaments are best described as “rubber band-like” tissue that connects one bone to another. Ligaments help improve stability in our body and we have them in all the major joints where stability needs to be improved. Don’t we wish we could add stability to other areas of our lives with ligaments! Ha!
A joint is the space where two bones meet one another. The three major ligaments in outside of your ankle that are commonly sprained are the Poster Talo-fibular ligament, the Anterior Talo-fibular ligament and the Calcaneo-fibular ligaments pictured below.
When an ankle is “sprained” this just means that one or all of the ligaments are overstretched. When the ligament is overstretched it is also at risk for tearing.
So how does one avoid spraining their ankle? The first thing is to identify if you are prone to sprain. Do you have excessive flexibility in your ankle? Does it roll in often? Do you have ankle pain on the outside of your ankle? Next I would recommend getting with a Physical Therapist to set up a home program for you to prevent ankle sprains. If you are an athlete or have impaired balance this is especially important. There are many simple exercises you can do at home or with a Physical Therapist to strengthen your ankles and ensure you never have to worry about a sprain or a tear. Take care of those ankle and they will take care of you!
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