Have you had an ankle injury within the past 2 years? Are you still dealing with ankle issues after a full repair? Are you still trying to figure out why you can’t walk like you used to? In that case, this blog will definitely answer some of those questions! Read on to find out what’s missing.
We all know our feet and hands are one of the most sensitive parts of our body. The amount of information constantly being sent to our brain is astounding! The ankle, specifically, plays a crucial role in our movements. The muscles of our leg help us propel the feet, allowing us to move. Hence, the most obvious symptom after an ankle injury is difficulty walking. The amount of weight we bear on our ankles makes it painful and uncomfortable, so we lay off until the tissue heals. However, the other not-so-obvious but crucial symptom, is your balance! Today we’re going to talk all about that.
How the Ankle Works
As a joint, the ankle has muscles and ligaments that control its movements. An ankle injury could be anything from an innocent sprain to a fracture in your lower leg. The ligaments around the ankle ensure that it is held in a good, stable position and moves according to the activity we are doing (i.e. walking, running, jogging, standing).
Apart from this, the ankle also has a lot of ‘receptors’ that are constantly telling your brain what’s going on with the feet. A constant feed is sent in terms of where you are stepping, what surface you are on, and what position your feet are in so that you don’t have to use your other sense (vision) constantly. All of these structures work in perfect harmony to ensure that you don’t fall the moment you step out of bed!
What Happens After I Sprain My Ankle?
Now, this is the most interesting part. If you ask yourself “what direction did I twist my ankle in?”, more often than not, the answer will be inwards. The most common mechanism of injury for the ankle is the foot being turned/twisted inwards. Why? Well, that’s a blog for another day! Now, we’ll fast forward to what happens after the soft tissues heal and you are able to walk.
Now, ask yourself, how many times have I sprained my ankle again, since the first time? Again, more often than not, the answer is multiple times! Why?
Here’s why: after an injury to the ankle, we divert all our attention to the pain, the swelling, and the discomfort we feel after. What we tend to not pay attention to, are those receptors we were discussing a while ago. Your ankle heals, your muscles are strong, but those tiny little foot soldiers (pun intended), have forgotten how to send signals to your brain! Therefore, your brain is getting some messages from your ankle and it has to now call in the big guns for the rest. Hence, you find yourself always looking at your feet when you are walking to maintain your balance.
That’s the reason why you then keep reinjuring the ankle!
What Do I Do?
A very important part of your post injury rehabilitation is your balance training. When you see your physiotherapist after the injury, she will incorporate balance exercises to retrain those receptors. The balance training will include training on one leg, training on unstable surface, training with your eyes closed – just so we can jumpstart that system back up again!
Hence, if you have been struggling to figure out why you keep reinjuring the same ankle again and again, book an appointment with your friendly neighborhood physio and let her assess your balance. A good balance exercise program could help you take care of that ankle!
Footprint Health and Wellness Centre is a multi-disciplinary clinic located in South Barrie, offering chiropody, physiotherapy, and massage therapy services. Book your appointment now!
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