How Can I Avoid An Ankle Sprain?

Ankle Sprain

Ankle Sprain

Now that February has officially started and many of you are continuing on your fitness journey, I want to focus on a question that I tend to get a lot from my patients who love running, especially on the treadmill:

“Nick, Can You Provide Me With Any Tips For Recovering From An Ankle Sprain Quickly?”

Most runners don’t realize this, but it does make a difference whether you’re running on a road, a sidewalk, or even a treadmill.

When choosing to only run on the road, you’re more than likely to suffer balance issues and ankle sprains. Why? Because your running habits predispose you to it.

On the other hand, running on a flat surface, such as a treadmill, has the power to lower your body’s reflexes. When continuously running on a flat surface, the body is basically pounding the same stable surface every time you run. This in turn causes the body to realize that there’s no need to remain alert or to stress about falling because the surface isn’t changing.

One thing we know about the brain is that it’s ALWAYS looking for a way to not have to work. Part of this includes turning off many balance receptors when it realizes that you’re running on a flat path. Its thought process looks a lot like this, “you were ok yesterday- you’ll be ok again today so keep going while I rest!”.

But, when jogging down a road full of bumps and hills or even switching from road to sidewalk your brain switches back to the danger that you may face. The unfortunate thing about the balance receptors located in your ankle ligaments is that they don’t always want to act as quickly as you need them.

The receptors in your ligaments work at incredibly fast speeds to send messages to the brain to help you as you’re about to fall over. If the signal doesn’t get there in time, it isn’t possible for you to change your body’s position in time to avoid falling.

Watch this video to learn a few exercises to help you avoid an ankle sprain. Click here.

The Consequence? An Ankle Sprain Or Worse.

So what’s the trick? To vary the surface that you run on.

Even if you add some grass, mud, or sand to the route. Your brain will be forced to think it has to stay alert because it has no idea what’s coming next. As a result, your receptors too will be on alert so if you do all of a sudden take a fall, you’re in a great position to limit the damage.

Although it’s not a foolproof plan, it’s better than suffering from an ankle sprain that could prevent you from running or exercising for anywhere up to four weeks. It could even increase the chance of Achilles tendon issues as well.

But back to our common question… what to do about an ankle sprain:

It’s best to ice for the first week (7 days), begin to gently stretch and walk and then progress into strengthening the ligament for the next couple of weeks. The main goal is to SAFELY, but quickly, get the ankle joint and Achilles tendon moving again. To find out safe stretches and strengthening exercises, talk to your local physical therapist or look here to get a free report on ways to recover from injuries quickly:

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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