Tips for Avoiding a Sprained Ankle

Tips for Avoiding a Sprained Ankle

It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, an office worker, or a stay-at-home parent — no one is immune from ankle sprains. And because they can strike at any time, it’s important that you know how to keep your ankles safe. 

Dr. Maurice Aiken, our board-certified podiatrist at Bay Breeze Foot & Ankle Specialists, takes a closer look at ankle sprains and walks through a few practical strategies for avoiding them. 

What happens when you sprain your ankle?

A sprained ankle happens when you roll, twist, or awkwardly turn your ankle. This type of injury often happens suddenly, and it stretches or tears the ligaments (tough bands of tissue) that hold your ankle bones in place. Most sprained ankles affect the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. 

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle include:

It can often be difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a bone fracture. If any of these symptoms are severe, it may indicate either a broken bone or severe ligament damage. Either way, the injury should be evaluated by a professional like Dr. Aiken. 

Without prompt treatment (or if you try to push through the pain), you could wind up with chronic ankle pain, chronic ankle instability, or arthritis in your ankle joint. One study found that nearly 40% of ankle sprains result in chronic symptoms that persist at least 12 months post-injury, including pain, swelling, instability, and recurrence.

Fortunately, many sprained ankles are mild and resolve with conservative treatments, such as the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method. More serious sprains may require splinting for a time and may even wind up needing surgery. 

Tips for avoiding a sprained ankle

Here are some pro tips to keep your ankles healthy and prevent a future ankle sprain.

Always warm up before activities

Right before you start moving, your ankle and all the ligaments and tendons in it are stiff, which is the perfect condition for a sprained ankle. Limber up by stretching or slow jogging for a few minutes to get the blood flowing and make your ankle more flexible. 

Mind your step

This is especially true when you’re on an uneven surface. Sometimes, even when you do everything right, a bump in the road can land you in a splint. 

Get support

We all need a little support sometimes — even your ankles. Seek out an experienced athletic trainer or learn how to tape your ankle yourself to give it a bit more support. Or, talk to us about our favorite ankle braces that are easy to use and keep your ankle stable. 

Wear better shoes

This goes for all your shoes — the ones you work out in, the ones you work in, and the ones you lounge in. At all times your feet and ankles should be properly supported with shoes that fit well and provide stability. Ask Dr. Aiken for some of his best shoe-buying tips to help you find the perfect pair. 

Also, it’s a good idea to avoid high-heeled shoes. The higher your heel, the greater your chance of rolling your ankle. 

Stick to what you know

That new sport might look like a blast, but if you’ve never played or trained for it before, it’s not a good idea to jump in with both feet (or ankles). Instead, ease into new activities, and allow your body to adjust to the new mechanics. Doing this helps you avoid a variety of injuries — not just ankle sprains. 

Focus on strength-building

They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same is true for your ankle — it’s only as strong as the muscles around it. That’s why we encourage you to strengthen your muscles so your ankle can rely on them even when you roll or twist it. 

If you’d like more information, or if you think you’ve sprained your ankle, request an appointment online at our Dunedin, Florida, office by calling our friendly staff at 727-285-9686. 

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