Ankle injury is the single most common sports injury. Millions of people suffer ankle sprains each year and many go untreated, causing pain, discomfort, and dysfunction for weeks, months, or even years. As an athletic trainer, I've treated countless injuries, from sprains and strains to tendinopathy and fractures. No injury is exactly the same, and every one needs to be managed properly for a successful recovery. Sprains, strains, fractures, tendonitis, and chronic inflammation are just a few of the injuries associated with the ankle and foot.
The ankle is one of the most important joints in the body when it comes to sports. Face it, without a normal, healthy ankle, you cannot compete. Too many times I have heard people talk about the ankle like it is unimportant..."it's just an ankle sprain, you will be fine in a week or two." Perhaps you have done this yourself - sprained your ankle and didn't see a doctor or therapist, but continued to have problems for several weeks or longer.
The ankle serves as the connection between your body and the ground when you are walking, running, or jumping. It is a hinge-like joint that relies on complex interactions between the ligaments and muscles to remain stable. We often overlook ankle injuries, or dismiss them as not serious. But in fact, a single ankle sprain can cause lifelong problems if not treated correctly. Because the ankle is the connection to the ground, ankle injuries can lead to problems in other areas of the body - like the knee, hip, and low back.
Function of the body is centered around a concept of the kinetic chain. This essentially means that everything in the body is connected...and when something happens to one part or joint, it effects the parts or joints both above and below.
Did you know that an ankle injury like a sprain, even one that is completely healed and no longer painful, can alter the way you squat, run, jump, and throw. I have seen more than one athlete walk into my clinic complaining about low back pain, and it turns out that they had an ankle sprain several months or years ago - and that is the culprit of their low back pain. It amazes me to this day that it is all connected so intricately.
An ankle injury can vary in both degree and nature. From ankle sprains to tendonitis, they come in all forms. The key to limiting long lasting effects is to understand your ankle injury, and to know how to fix it. Ankle injuries are a part of sports, but they should not, and cannot, be overlooked.