The causes of ankle pain or injuries and the exercises to identify the cause.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries for the active, as well as the general population. This is exemplified with approximately 70% of people incurring an ankle injury during their lifetime.
There are three grades of injury classification of ankle sprain injury which can be assessed by your physio. With grade 1 ankle sprains being considered as mild with an expected full recovery within 2-3 weeks, to grade 3 injuries which are considered to be a complete rupture of the injured ligament, which would need special input and advice from your physio and or surgeon depending on the indications.
Chronic ankle instability is a real concern when dealing with ankle injuries as when left untreated which can have further implications for sporting goals or even daily tasks as climbing stairs or walking on uneven surfaces. The main focus of rehabilitation of ankle injuries is strength, balance and mobility.
To identify if you have either stiff or unstable ankles and therefore increased the risk of incurring an ankle injury you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I rolled my ankle previously?
- Do I participate in activities that involve a change of directions (eg. soccer, basketball and volleyball) or uneven surfaces (hiking, gardening)?
Some easy tests you can do to identify if you have stiff or unstable ankles are:
Knee to wall test
- Step one: in bare feet have a leg with which ankle you are testing close to a wall with toes pointing forward
- Step two: lunge forward whilst maintaining heel of lunging knee on the ground (back leg can be anywhere)
- Step three: Find the furthest point away from the wall that you are still able to touch your knee to the wall without lifting heel.
- Step four: Measure that distance and compare to the other side.
Single leg balance
- Stand on one leg with eyes open and with bare feet.
- Maintain balance without touching other foot down or using hands for balance for 30 seconds.
Indications from the knee to wall test are that if there is a large discrepancy (more than >2cm) between the distance away from the wall each foot is that you may have a stiff ankle. If one or more of your ankles aren’t able to be ~10cm away from the wall then you likely have stiff ankles and this could be impacting your daily life.
If you aren’t able to stand on one leg for 30 seconds then this could indicate instability of the ankle joint.
Come and get an assessment of your ankle if you feel that you are experiencing difficulties with your ankle and/or these symptoms.