Jumping up for rebound and landing wrong can tear the ligaments in your ankle, just as toppling off a curb or slipping down the stairs can. Whether you’re an athlete who's been sidelined due to a sprained ankle or a nonathlete who’s been hobbled by the same injury, once is enough.
Dr. W. Joseph Absi here at Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetics Institute understands. He’s treated countless patients who’ve overstretched or torn the ligaments in their ankles and has successfully treated them to regain full stability and function.
Here is his expert advice on how to avoid a repeat sprained ankle in the future.
Keep your core muscles strong
One of the most common causes of a sprained ankle is when you stop and quickly change directions. If your core muscles are weak, you don't have an adequate support system to aid in the abrupt change of velocity and trajectory.
Your hips don’t engage as efficiently as they should, and your body tends to keep moving in the original direction. The consequence is that your ankles take the brunt of force, and something has to give — namely your ligaments.
Strengthening your core muscles distributes the job of body control and takes the pressure off your ankles.
When the muscles in your legs are tight — again, something’s got to give — your ligaments become vulnerable to overstretching and tearing (sprain). That’s why it’s important to gently stretch and warm up your muscles before any athletic activity.
But stretching isn’t just for sports, and it’s not just for pregame warmups. Staying flexible is as important as staying strong. A healthy musculoskeletal system relies on a balance of both attributes. Strong muscles that are tight can be as risky as weak muscles that are limber.
Working long, gentle stretches into your workout can keep you loose and strong and help you avoid sprained ankles.
Remember muscle memory
For athletes, rehabilitation from a sprained ankle should always include sport-specific exercises that retrain the ankle and get it ready for play. Muscle memory is a compelling force and a key component in preventing future sprains.
The more time and effort you put into programming your ankles to move the way you want them to on the basketball court or soccer field, the better your chances of avoiding a repeat injury.
It’s common for those with a sprained ankle to find themselves in the same situation again because they failed to allow for complete healing of the first injury.
To ensure the best chance of avoiding recurrent ankle sprains, Dr. Absi and our team work closely with you to make sure you’re progressing through the healing process and are ready to go back to regular activities.
Brace and tape it
Once you’ve sprained your ankle, it might always be somewhat unstable. Even with the most diligent rehab program, some ankles just need a little extra support. Ankle braces and tape can provide just that and give you an extra dose of insurance.
What to do if you sprain your ankle again
Even the strongest athletes and most cautious walkers have accidents, and sprained ankles (and repeat sprained ankles) can happen to anyone.
If it happens to you — again — come see Dr. Absi. His years of experience and expertise ensure you get the right diagnosis and a personalized recovery plan, from conservative treatments to surgical repair, to get you healthy and active again as soon as possible.
For more information about sprained ankles and how to prevent them, call our office today or book an appointment online.