Caring for the Common Ankle Inury
Brett McQueen, MS, LAT, ATC, Athletic Trainer
Injuries to the ankle are among the most frequently occurring injuries that face athletes in nearly every sport. Ankle injuries can occur during landing on one foot such as running, jumping or even walking. Though ankle injuries can occur outside of sport, injuries happen most often when playing football, basketball, volleyball, tennis and soccer.
Among all ankle injuries, those to the lateral aspect, or outside of the foot/ankle, seem to be the most common. With a lateral ankle injury, pain and swelling will likely develop quickly. Compression wraps similar to an ACE bandage, as well as elevating the ankle above the heart are typically the most effective ways to reduce pain and swelling. In addition, ice can be applied to help manage the pain, but no longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Early range-of-motion exercises after injury can help decrease down time experienced by athletes.
Over the years, many practices such as ankle taping and bracing have made claims to help prevent ankle injuries from occurring. Many of these claims have been found in recent research to be more exaggerated than we once presumed.
The National Athletic Trainers Association recommends ankle taping or bracing only be performed when it is deemed appropriate by a sports medicine professional after an ankle injury occurs. A quality injury prevention program that includes flexibility, mobility, strength, balance and agility training has been shown to be the most effective means of reducing ankle injury rates.
Sports medicine professionals like physicians, athletic trainers or physical therapists can help make the appropriate recommendation for bracing or injury prevention programs based on individual needs. Moreover, it is important to the overall health and well-being of athletes and active individuals to undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation program after ankle injury to reduce the risk of further injury and recurrence of ankle problems.
Learn more about Sports Medicine at Children's Mercy.