Ankle Sprains - An Introduction

22 September 2015

Most people who taken part in any kind of sport or exercise will have first-hand experience of ankle sprains. They are often dismissed as a minor injury but, if not taken seriously, can wind up causing long-term damage and keeping you out of action for an extended period.

What is an Ankle Sprain?

Ankle sprains involve damage  to the ligaments in the ankle, the strong bands of tissue holding your bones together. They are flexible, but can be torn when sudden movement causes them to stretch too far. Most ankle sprains occur on the lateral (outside) part of the ankle. This usually occurs after an inversion injury, where the foot rolls inwards underneath the ankle, also known as "rolling your ankle" or "ankle rollover". Ankle sprains come in various levels of severity, and are divided into grades. A grade 1 ankle sprain is less severe and the person affected may still be able to walk without significant pain or a limp. A grade 3 sprain can cause enough pain that the affected person may not even be able to walk.

How Does This Happen?

Ankle sprains are very common during physical activity, but can also happen to anyone at any time. Jumping sports such as basketball have a particular risk due to the possibility of landing awkwardly on the ankle. Runners often suffer sprains when losing their footing, often due to uneven surfaces, debris, potholes etc.

Certain other things increase the risk of a sprain, and these include having sprained the ankle before, playing a sport with sudden changes in direction, or wearing ill-fitting shoes or shoes without very good support. 

Treatment Options for Ankle Sprains

Fortunately, left to their own devices most ankle sprains, as long as they are not too severe, will heal on their own if given adequate time. If it is a moderate sprain people can return to activity within days, but for severe sprains the process can take several weeks. To speed up this process there are a few things you can do, demonstrated by the acronym RICE.

R- For one, you should simply rest the ankle. Don't put weight on it if possible.

I- Put ice on the ankle to reduce pain and inflammation. Do this for 20 or so minutes every few hours. For a more convenient way of icing the injury and preventing swelling, try the Dura Soft Foot and Ankle Ice Pack Wrap, which removes the need for holding the ice in place.

C- Compression - use elastic bandages wrapped around your foot to help keep the swelling down.

E - Elevation - try to keep your ankle elevated to a level at least above your heart, which will also help with swelling.

The main thing is not to push yourself too hard after a sprain, or try to return to physical activity too quickly as you could end up causing more damage to yourself, resulting in a more severe and long-lasting injury.

What Products can Help with Ankle Sprains?

The risk of rolling over on your ankle can be severely reduced by wearing supports and braces which help stabilise the ankle. The Aircast A60 is trusted by sports stars such as Andy Murray to do this. If you have already injured your ankle you could wear a product which helps the ankle heal through support and compression such as the Donjoy Strapping Elastic Ankle Support

Of course, one of the best methods of treatment is prevention. Using shoes which provide the necessary support and encourage a natural running motion will lessen the risk such as the range of running shoes by Topo Athletic.

Visit Think Sport for more products to help fight against Ankle Sprains