How to Keep a Sprained Ankle From Becoming Chronic Instability

Ankle sprains are a common injury, especially among older people and people who are physically active. Sprains occur when one of your ligaments is stretched beyond its normal capacity, leaving you with pain, swelling, and sometimes other symptoms, like bruising or discoloration. Sprains often occur when you step “wrong” and wind up rolling your ankle inward or, less commonly, outward. But they can be caused by other accidents too, like falls, car accidents, and sports accidents. Some sprains are caused by overuse or repetitive use of your ankle or from failing to warm up properly before exercising or playing sports.

Although they can be quite painful, many sprains can be treated conservatively, using treatments like rest, elevation, and application of ice packs. However, if you have more than one sprain in the same ankle, you might develop ankle instability, a chronic condition that increases the risks of falls, fractures, and other serious injuries. If you’ve had one or more sprains, it’s important to take steps to prevent instability so you can avoid future injuries and enjoy better health and a better overall quality of life. 

5 tips to prevent instability

Chronic ankle instability can be self-perpetuating: When your ankle is weak, you’re more likely to sprain it. And the more you sprain it, the worse the instability can become. That’s why, when you injure your ankle, it’s important to be proactive, taking steps to prevent the cycle from beginning in the first place. 

Get medical attention

If you sprain your ankle or you have ankle pain for another reason, it’s important to have that pain evaluated right away. Early medical intervention can ensure you get the right care and treatment to speed healing and keep your ankle strong to avoid future problems.

Choose the right shoes

Today, there are more options than ever when it comes to choosing footwear for different activities. Whether you play a specific sport or you just like to walk (or spend a lot of time standing), there are shoes that can provide the right type of support for your needs.

Check out the terrain

Even a lone rock or a shallow divot can interfere with your foot placement when you’re not paying attention. Keep an eye on the ground around you so you can avoid obstacles that could result in sprains or other injuries. And if you’re a runner, try to avoid sand or gravel paths that can wind up putting extra strain on your ankle ligaments.

Strengthen your leg muscles (and your core, too)

It’s easy to think an ankle sprain only has to do with your ankle and feet. But your musculoskeletal system is interconnected, and that means muscles in other parts of your body, like your back, abdomen, and legs, also affect your gait (your foot placement when you walk or run). Improving strength and flexibility in these muscles provide better alignment for your lower legs and ankles, which in turn enhances stability.

Consider physical therapy

A physical therapist is trained in body mechanics — the way your ankles and other parts of your body work together to move. Not only can a good therapist improve your ankle’s strength and flexibility through therapeutic exercise, but they can also give you guidance and tips that are customized for your habits and activities. Plus, they can assign at-home exercises you can use even after your therapy sessions end so you can continue to keep your ankles strong and healthy.

Get treatment for your ankle pain

Pain in or around your ankle is never normal. Even if you think you can treat your symptoms at home, it’s still a good idea to schedule a visit at Kazmer Foot & Ankle Center to make sure your ankle heals properly. In addition to providing the best and most appropriate care for your needs, we can also offer additional tips based on your lifestyle and activities to help you reduce your risks of future injuries. To schedule your ankle evaluation or to discuss other issues affecting your ankles or your feet, book an appointment online today.

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