“I totally just sprained my ankle.
I was walking across the parking lot, stepped off the curb funny, and rolled my ankle. I have been icing it, and got a brace at Walgreens and it’s getting better. Is there anything else I should do for it?”
Having heard this from a few friends and family members now, it’s probably time to address the elephant in the room, take the ankle by the horns, if you will…
The short answer to this question is, yes, there is more you should do for it and physical therapy is number one on my list. Unfortunately, the biggest predictor of rolling your ankle is A PREVIOUS INCIDENT OF ROLLING YOUR ANKLE. (Can you believe they do research on this stuff?).
*Side note: It is never a bad idea to follow up with your primary care physician or orthopedic specialist regarding severity of an ankle sprain. In PT, we will screen for the magnitude of the injury and make an appropriate referral if necessary. *
But what can physical therapy do for this, Jake?
I’m so glad you asked. If you’ve rolled your ankle before, there may be some ligament damage. Don’t freak out though, this can heal. What happens though, is it may heal in a lengthened state, meaning the foot moves inward more easily. Seeing a physical therapist can help you with stability of these structures in the ankle as well as the big meaty muscles in your hip to avoid rolling it again. Also, we can help with mechanics of the foot and ankle to keep you out of the positions where you may sprain your ankle again. It’s science.
The area I LOVE to talk about is called proprioception. It’s pretty much the reason I get out of bed in the morning. This big P-word basically means I can tell where my joints are in space without looking at them, so if I put my hand behind my head, I don’t have to look back to know it’s there, I just know. My joints tell me this. These little tiny receptors are located in the ligaments in my joints and if I’ve sprained my ankle, proprioception is altered making it more difficult for me to know where my ankle is positioned on the ground as I walk, run, hike or try to balance. You may notice balancing on one leg may be harder on that side than the other side. Try it. You know what’s super awesome though, we can totally re-train this with physical therapy.
Another very common finding is limited mobility of the foot, ankle and hip overall. If the foot and hip are not allowed to move, they cannot absorb shock, cannot conform to uneven surfaces, and cannot assist you in balancing. I like to use this analogy: if there was an earthquake in Phoenix, which building is likely to fall first, the brick building or the skyscraper?
Probably the brick building, right? It has no ability to move and sway and will just tip over, whereas the skyscraper can do this effectively. We need to make you more of a skyscraper (just like the Demi Lovato song).
How do I become a skyscraper, Jake?
Come see us and we will perform a movement screen to see how we can set you up for success to see what is contributing and not contributing to a healthy ankle.
If you don’t feel quite ready for this, I’m going to give you some exercises you can try at home and you can shoot me an email if you have any questions. Side note: these exercises should not be painful.
Ankle sprains can be a pain and you shouldn’t have to deal with recurring sprains forever. Come stop by Chandler PT and let us know if this is something you struggle with. We’re here to help. If you have questions, give me a call at 480-786-4969 or check out the Discovery Visit option below. I love to talk about this stuff.
Jake Kelso PT, DPT
Chandler Physical Therapy is a family owned and operated Physical Therapy clinic in Chandler, Arizona. We treat active adults who are looking to keep themselves pain free and active through exercise and healthy living.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and ask or, we have a Free Discovery Visit (Half Hour) that allows you to sit down, one on one with a therapist to discuss what you have going on to find out if physical therapy is a good fit for you. Check it out below: