Many athletes experienced ankle injuries multiple times. On many occasions the ligaments are sprained or ruptured. Once injured there is a big risk of developing a chronic instability in the affected ankle joint.
In most cases athletes injure their outer (three) ankle ligaments. A well-structured rehab therapy is expected to establish a carefree return into sports – without a loss of the actual performance level. That being said, you still see athletes getting rushed back into competitive sports like Harry Kane in the Champions League final against Liverpool. Him starting the match after being out for two months sparked a major debate whether it was too early to return from an major ankle injury.
Depending on the severity of the injury of the ankle ligaments, a rehab can have different lengths. Since the typical rehab after an ankle ligament injury uses a conservative way of dealing with the injury and does not include an operation, most of the rehabs tend to be pretty similar in their methods.
Anatomy of the ankle joint
To put it briefly, the ankle joint serves the purpose to connect the lower leg bone with the foot bones. In a more detailed view you are able to divide the ankle joint into two segments, the upper and lower ankle joint. Both of them together build a complementing unit.
The upper ankle joint consists of components: shinbone (tibia), calf bone (fibula) and the anklebone (talus). In his key function it allows the foot to move up and down freely. The lower, less flexible, ankle joint connects the anklebone with the tarsal bones and the heel bone. It enables lateral movements like pronation and supination (Kenhub; 2019). In this complex structure around the ankle joint are a lot of cartilage, tendons and ligaments to be found. Three ligaments are located on the outside of the ankle joint, providing necessary stabilisation and flexibility for the joint. These ligaments are structures, which often get damaged first in case of an injury and are prone to get strained and tear apart. In general the ankle joint is the most commonly injured joint in the human body.
The rehab after an ankle ligament injury
If an injury of the ankle ligaments occurs, it’s important to immobilise the affected area after providing first aid. The main goal here is to give the injured structure time to grow together again. Are the ligaments completely ruptured a timespan to do so can be about six weeks long – often combined with wearing an orthosis. In case of a less severe injury, resting the foot can be reduced to about three to four weeks. The orthosis will be dropped, depending on the injury and once the feeling of pain becomes smaller and smaller. Of course consulting a specialist is always reasonable. In the ideal case, putting down the orthosis goes hand in hand with the first development training sessions. The exercise load and intensity will be increased continually. First exercises are very simple and target getting used to walking and the roll motion of the foot.
Next and with time the demands towards the athlete continue to grow, putting a major focus on coordination and proprioception. In addition it’s important to maintain a solid strength training to regain and enhance the muscular abilities after such a break.
After the eighth week the more and more sprinting and change of direction exercises should be integrated into the training routine. For ball sports such as football it is recommended to start getting in touch with a ball again. In football you return to first team training at the tenth week mark, which means you are able to do your normal training and finish your rehabilitation training. Finally it is highly advisable to not rush the athlete back into a competitive environment before hitting week twelve, given the fact that your body is still adjusting to his environment and the injured structure is supposed to heal out completely.
It is important, to coordinate your rehab after an ankle ligament injury with a qualified specialist and the very least listen to the own body. Pain is an indicator of not being at a full 100 percent yet – in this case it could be useful to go pack in your training stage.
Prevention with the Betterguards Technology
Here at Betterguards we aim towards the goal to keep people from a long-lasting rehab after aan nkle ligament injury. A time without sport and excercise does not only have negative effects to the body, but also to the mental state of a person. Being injured at the ankle joint in the first place, many people – professionals and amateurs – develop a chronic instability in their ankle. This chronic instability can be very tough to get rid off, so it is always worth it to focus on the prevention of injuries. With the Betterguards Technology we ensure that every sportsman and sportswoman is protected against ankle joint injuries and will not lose his or her training rhythm. The System prevents a straining or rupturing of the ankle ligaments and therefore provides an innovative way of protection while still maintaining a high range of motion.