Ankle sprain is one of the joint pains frequently treated in podiatry. This condition occurs following a tear or stretching of the ankle ligaments. Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect our ligaments.
Ankle ligaments can be very delicate and thus vulnerable to injury. All it takes is one false movement to suffer a nasty sprain. Missing a step on the stairs, experiencing a severe impact during sports or running on uneven ground are some of the factors that can lead to a sprained ankle. Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are also risk factors.
Here are 5 concrete ways to avoid ankle sprains and prevent them from recurring.
1) Watch out for signs
Many people mistakenly believe that sprains are less serious than fractures. Thus, some people may neglect to consult a podiatrist. Remember that an ankle sprain, even if it is painless at first, can cause several long-term complications, such as osteoarthritis or repeated sprains.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Swollen ankles
- Bruising (in more severe cases)
- Feeling of warmth to the touch
- Loss of mobility
- Redness in the ankle area
The degree of pain caused by an ankle sprain can vary widely from one person to the next. That’s why you should consult a podiatrist, even if you don’t feel any pain.
2) Warm up for sports
Sprained ankles often occur during a sports activity, like running. On the other hand, sports activities are important to maintain and strengthen our joints.
That’ s why it is important to adopt good habits before, during and after physical activity:
- Perform a warm-up routine for at least 15 minutes before beginning sports activities.
- Avoid repetitive movements.
- Wear the right footwear that supports the foot properly (particularly running shoes)
- Plan rest breaks during sports activities.
Your podiatrist can give you the right advice to help you stay in shape and avoid sprains.
3) Apply the RICE method
Even with the right preparation, no one is entirely safe from stretching or tearing an ankle ligament. If this ever happens, stay calm and practise the RICE method:
- R (for Rest): the worst thing you can do in the event of a sprain is to apply more pressure to the area. Complete rest is required if you think you have an ankle injury.
- I (for Ice): wrap ice in a facecloth and apply it to your injured ankle for approximately 15 minutes each day for 72 hours.
- C (for Compression): use a compression bandage and wrap it around your ankle and foot. Remember not to wrap it too tight!
- E (for Elevation): elevating your foot is an important step in your recovery, since it stimulates blood circulation to help you get back on your feet again.
The RICE method is effective in minimizing damage caused by an ankle sprain. However, if your condition has not improved within 2 days, it is important to consult a podiatrist.
4) Strengthen, stabilize and re-educate your ankle
The chances of an ankle sprain recurring are often very high. Thus, if you have already experienced this injury, you must develop good strengthening and stabilization exercises to prevent this from happening again, especially if you are athletic.
Then, at the appropriate time, you will gradually be able to resume your sports activities, in order to re-educate your ankle. But to do this, ask a podiatrist or physiotherapist for advice on when it is appropriate. Re-educating your ankle too quickly could affect your recovery.
5) Wear plantar orthotics
Custom plantar orthotics are an interesting option to support and strengthen your foot. At the same time, they prevent the risk of a sprain recurring.
There are orthotics designed especially for sports enthusiasts, which enhance performance while strengthening your foot. And because they are custom-made, these orthotics are comfortable and can be adapted to your personal morphology.
The podiatrists at PiedRéseau have the expertise and equipment necessary to design the right orthotics.
PiedRéseau: your ankle sprain and pain experts
With approximately 40 podiatry clinics across the province, PiedRéseau has combined the skills and know-how of hundreds of podiatrists to provide you with support and advice, throughout Quebec.
Contact your closest PiedRéseau clinic to benefit from the best treatment for your ankle sprain.