A sprained ankle is one of the most common physical problems known. There are about 2 million sprained ankles in the United States each year. They count for 20% of all sports injuries.
So knowing the right treatment can help a lot of people reduce their sprained ankle recovery time.
That treatment is what I will teach you in this post.
First, I’ll show you the anatomy of your ankle and where the damage occurs when you’ve twisted your ankle.
I’ll also show you the differences between a Grade 1, 2, and 3 ankle sprain, including the various symptoms, with pictures.
And finally, I’ll show you how you can treat your sprained ankle yourself and how you can prevent it from happening in the future.
The first thing you should do is buy an ankle brace. That way, you can start walking right away, which will help your recovery.
The following is what you will learn today:
- Anatomy of the ankle
- What causes a sprained ankle?
- What is the difference between a grade 1,2, or 3 ankle sprain?
- Sprained ankle treatment with two exercises
So keep reading.
Anatomy of the ankle
First, you have to know something about the ankle’s anatomy to understand what happens when you sprained your ankle and how to treat it.
Your ankle is a combination of two joints.
Your Tibia, Fibula, and Talus together form the essential joint of your ankle. This joint is called the Talocrural Joint.
Your tibia is also known as the shinbone, and your fibula is also known as the calf bone.
Together they form the Crural Fork, where the Talus fits in perfectly.
That is why it is called the Talocrural Joint. The tibia and fibula are held together by two ligaments: The anterior and posterior tibiofibular ligament.
Your Talus, Calcaneus (heel bone), and Navicular bone together form the second joint of your ankle. Therefore it’s called the Talocalcaneonavicular joint.
The essential function of the Talocrural Joint is the mobility of the Talocalcaneonavicular Joint and the stability of your foot.
Movements of the ankle
Since the ankle joint is a combination of 2 joints, movement is possible in many directions. The movements performed by your Talocrural Joint are dorsiflexion and plantarflexion.
When performing dorsiflexion of your foot, you lift your foot towards your lower leg.
When performing plantar flexion, you bend your foot towards the ground.
The Talocalcaneonavicular joint lets the ankle perform inversion and eversion.
- Inversion is the movement where you bend your foot inwards
- Eversion is the movement where you bend your foot outwards
These bones are held together by various ligaments.
The ligaments are the structures that become damaged when you have a sprained ankle. The amount of damage defines if you have a grade 1,2, or 3 ankle sprain.
Ligaments of the ankle
Multiple ligaments surround the ankle to hold the bones that form your ankle together. The primary function of the ligaments in your ankle is to increase stability. You can see the ligaments in the picture.
On the outside or lateral side of your ankle are four different ligaments:
- anterior talofibular ligament
- calcaneofibular ligament
- your tibiofibular ligament
- your posterior talofibular ligament
The last one doesn’t show in the picture.
On the inside or medial side of your ankle, there is one significant ligament, called your deltoid ligament.
Muscles that stabilize your ankle
Several muscles also surround your ankle. These muscles move your ankle but also support your ankle. These muscles are also able to compensate for any stability loss after a sprained ankle.
Therefore these are vital in preventing it from happening again in the future.
Three muscles stabilize your ankle joint:
- Peroneus longus and brevis
- Tibialis posterior
- Calf muscles
The peroneus longus and brevis muscles run along the lateral side of your leg and ankle. Their function is to perform eversion of the ankle. Since your ankle naturally wants to perform inversion because of its build, it’s a great stabilizer.
Now you know a little more about the anatomy and movements of your ankle.
Now it’s time to show you what happens when you sprain your ankle.
What causes a sprained ankle?
A sprained ankle is, in fact, a lesion of the ligament caused by inversion trauma. That type of injury is also known as a twisted ankle.
Here is what happens:
When you walk on unstable ground, your ankle has to stabilize the ligaments and muscles surrounding your ankle. When you suddenly twitch your ankle, your muscles have to react quickly to stop the unwanted movement.
As I discussed earlier, the unwanted movement is usually towards inversion because of the ankle joint’s shape.
When the response of your muscles is too slow, the movement applies tension to the ligaments. The stress will slow down the action even further. Unfortunately, sometimes the force is so strong that it sprains or ruptures the ligament.
When that happens, you have a sprained ankle. A sprained ankle caused by an inversion trauma is the most common, but an eversion trauma also occurs occasionally.
What is the difference between a grade 1,2, or 3 ankle sprain?
The symptoms of a sprained ankle depend on the severity of the injury.
There are three grades of ankle sprains which I will discuss here.
Basically, the higher the grade, the more severe your pain and symptoms are, and the longer the recovery time is.
I’ll show you the different symptoms of all three ankle sprain grades as well as the recovery time for each of them.
Grade 1 Ankle Sprain
A grade 1 ankle sprain causes light stretching of your anterior talofibular ligament. Since the ligament stretches and is not damaged, symptoms will be very mild. Here I show you a grade 1 ankle sprain picture.
Usually, it will cause only minor swelling, minimal pain, and no coloring of the ankle.
When you perform inversion passively, it will cause minimal pain and discomfort. You will be able to walk quite well.
The recovery time for a grade 1 ankle sprain is usually less than two weeks.
Grade 2 ankle sprain
Here you see a grade 2 ankle sprain picture. As you can see, there is a little bit more coloring versus a grade 1 ankle sprain. There is also more swelling and pain present in a grade 2 ankle sprain than a grade 1 sprain.
Walking is usually the first week more difficult, but then the symptoms will slowly disappear.
The recovery time of a grade 2 ankle sprain is usually 2-4 weeks.
Grade 3 Ankle Sprain
A grade 3 ankle sprain is a complete tear of the anterior talofibular ligament. A grade 3 ankle sprain causes much more swelling, pain, and coloring than a grade 2 ankle sprain. You can see the difference in the picture.
The biggest difference between a grade 2 and grade 3 ankle sprain is that in a grade 3 ankle sprain, a ligament is ruptured completely, where a grade 2 ankle sprain is only partially ruptured.
A grade 3 tear causes a significant amount of pain, swelling, and coloring of the lateral side of your ankle. Usually, the other ligaments on the lateral side of your ankle are also stretched and sometimes contain minor tears.
Walking will be hard but not impossible. When you are unable to walk, it’s more likely that you broke your ankle.
The recovery time of a grade 3 ankle sprain is usually 4-6 weeks.
When you have twisted your ankle even worse, this can cause a fracture in your ankle. A fracture happens when not only your ligament tears, but your ligament also pulls off a piece of the bone. It is called an avulsion fracture.
When you have an avulsion fracture, you won’t be able to put any weight on your foot at all.
An avulsion fracture is a broken ankle that requires special care. I will not go into this further now.
Now that you know the difference between the different ankle grades, it is time to show you how to perform the most effective sprained ankle treatment with two exercises.
So let’s continue.
Sprained ankle treatment with two exercises
The most important thing is to let your body do the work it needs to do. That means that it has to be able to repair the damaged tissue.
Your body does this by increasing the blood flow towards the damaged tissue. This blood contains all the necessary nutrients.
Therefore I would not recommend you ice your ankle. Ice will reduce the blood flow, which will slow down your recovery.
Instead, I would recommend you gently massage the most painful side of your ankle, even to increase the blood flow. You can use this massage oil to do so. It will reduce your pain immediately and enables you to walk sooner. When you become mobile again, your sprained ankle recovers quicker.
Secondly, you have to try and keep using your foot without increasing the pain too much. With a grade 1 ankle sprain, this is usually not a problem.
But with a grade 2 or even Grade 3 ankle sprain, this might be painful the first few weeks.
In this case, you might consider wearing a brace to stabilize your ankle. This way, you can keep using him without the risk of damaging it. Supporting the ankle will speed up your recovery.
You can also buy a compression sleeve to reduce swelling. That will also reduce the pain in your ankle, making it easier to walk.
Sprained ankle exercise 1: Restore the stability of your ankle
The first exercise we are going to perform is designed to increase the stability of your ankle. When you train the control of your ankle, you will put a load on the damaged tissue. Your body needs this load to repair the ligament correctly.
This exercise also works preventively in the future, reducing the chance of it ever happening again.
After you’ve sprained your ankle, the ligaments will never be as tight as they were before. That’s why your ankle can stay a little unstable in the future.
Training your ankle muscles to react faster to any sudden movement will overcome that problem.
The exercise goes like this:
- Stand on your painful leg
- Bend your knee slightly and keep looking forward
- Try to hold this position as long as possible
- Repeat this several times a day
You can also find the YouTube video here on how to perform this exercise.
In the first few days, it will hard enough to perform this exercise this way.
When you’ve trained it for a few days, you will notice that it becomes easier.
To make it harder, you can perform the exercise with your eyes closed.
The final stage of difficulty you have to perform to prevent you from twisting your ankle is by doing the exercise on a balance cushion.
When you’re able to do this, you know that your ankle is strong and healthy again.
Sprained ankle exercise 2: Increase the strength of your foot muscles
The second exercise is intended to increase the power of your foot and lower leg. Usually, after you’ve sprained your ankle, you do not walk much for a few days.
Rest reduces the strength in your foot and leg muscles. To increase the power and aid the healing process, you can perform the following exercise.
The exercise goes like this:
- Stand on two feet with your legs spread slightly
- Now stand on your toes and slowly come down again
- Repeat this ten times
You can also find the YouTube video of the exercise here.
Perform this exercise 3 times and two times a day. If it is too easy, you can also perform the activity on one leg. You can even add weight for more strength.
As you can see, treating your sprained ankle isn’t that hard to do. You have to be patient and perform the right exercises.
If you still have questions after reading all of this, please send me an e-mail, and I will try to answer them.
Good luck with your recovery.
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