Getting an ankle sprain as an athlete can be a big roadblock to athletic training. Depending on the severity of the sprain, you might need to go through some extensive rehabilitation and recovery before getting back to your sport. Here is a guide to help you decide who to visit and how to train for a full recovery.
Your Specialist Options for Rehab
There are two main types of specialists that can help with sports-injury rehab for ankles. The first is a physical therapist. Physical therapists focus on the more general side of ankle recovery and holistic healing. A sports therapist will be more exclusively focused on athletic training and recovery. You might choose to see a physical therapist first for rehabilitation and then work up to the sports therapist.
Goals and Procedures of Rehab
Whether you choose a physiotherapist or sports-medicine specialist, there are some common goals of rehabilitating an ankle for strength, reliability, and flexibility. For one, there is likely a lot of scar tissue to work through in order to regain your range of mobility. The doctor will push you to stretch the ankle up to the brink of your comfort zone to keep new scar tissue from forming and to reduce the ankle's stagnant state. These exercises are best done under the trained eye of a professional, since pushing the ankle too far before it's ready could actually delay your recovery.
Reliability will be a big issue if you have been unable to walk on the ankle for some time. Your muscles will need to be retrained to pick up on the ankle's position relative to the terrain. You may walk on balance beams or step up and down from various levels of blocks as a training exercise to work on balance and proprioception.
Strength can be regained a little bit at a time using exercise bands to help you flex the ankle forward and backward. Your physical therapist is a great guide for knowing how much exercise to do at any one time; overdoing it may cause additional swelling. Your physical therapist might have you do several sets of strength exercises with breaks for ice or massage therapy in between.
Once you have your basic functioning back, you can move on to practicing daily activities, such as the sport of your choice. Care should be taken to avoid new injuries, and you may need to ease back into your previous routine.
Contact a healthcare provider such as Hands-On Physical Therapy to make an appointment.