Charlie had always been an athlete. At 40-years-old, he decided to take on an ultra-trail run. He was in shape for the race, and he had always been a competitive runner. However, as the race began, it also began raining, and that nice, hard-packed trail turned into straight-up mud. Unfazed, Charlie kept running (after all, he was doing pretty well), until he fell into a particular patch of deep mud and sprained his ankle.
A sprained ankle is the most common athletic-related injury. A broken ankle is a more severe ankle injury, and it’s important to see a physician or physical therapist to determine a proper diagnosis of what kind of an ankle injury you have sustained. Regardless, if you’re like our friend Charlie, you’re probably very anxious to return to exercise and are desperate to have your ankle recover faster.
This guide will discuss some good methods you can use to help recover from your ankle injury and get back into the game. But before we dive into how to recover, it’s important to understand some basics about the ankle itself and the different grades of injury.
Anatomy of the Ankle
The ankles of a human body provide both stability and support. The ankles are comprised of bones and many muscles, tendons and ligaments. Although the ankle and foot are often overlooked, together they comprise more than 100 muscles and hundreds of tendons and ligaments. In fact, the largest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon, is found in the ankle, and it is the most important tendon for walking, jumping and running.
The Three Different Types of Ankle Sprains
The ankle sprain is the most common type of injury in sports. A sprain refers to injury of a ligament (and remember there are hundreds in the ankle and foot). When ligaments that stabilize a joint are injured, the resulting sprain can be as minor as a twisted ankle or as serious as a complete tearing of the ligament, which results in instability of the joint. This is why ankle sprains are classified into three different types of injuries known as grades.
Grade 1: A small tear in the ligament. This has the least severe symptoms.
Grade 2: A more moderate tear in the ligament.
Grade 3: A complete tear in the ligament. The symptoms with a Grade 3 ankle sprain are severe.
It can be difficult to discern between a Grade 3 ankle sprain and a fracture. X-rays may be needed.
Most people suffer a lateral ankle sprain, which occurs when the foot gets twisted inwards. Medial sprains, when the foot gets twisted outward, are less common.
Recovery Methods for Ankle Injuries
First, make sure you get your ankle evaluated by a healthcare professional so you can get a proper diagnosis. With that disclaimer in place, let’s begin discussing some ways you can help your ankle injury recover faster.
Previously, clinicians simply advised patients to try to immobilize the injured ankle by abstaining from sports, using crutches or splinting the ankle. However, in recent years, research has proven that continued mobility (which in turn increases blood circulation to the injured area) can help speed up recovery.
Cold + Compression Therapy: PowerPlay Ankle Wrap
We’ve built our business around athletic recovery, taking the acronym P.R.I.C.E (protect, rest, ice, compression and elevate) to a whole new level. This means we’re continually using research and user feedback on how to make our cold and compression wraps more effective. A person that is looking to help speed up their ankle injury recovery time should utilize a PowerPlay ankle wrap is because this is exactly the type of problem we’ve set out to solve.
PowerPlay works by combining cold and compression to the ankle. Most athletes know to apply either cold or compression but the reason PowerPlay is so effective because it provides both efficiently.
If you’ve injured your ankle, you might have pain and/or swelling as a result. Applying cold can help lessen the pain by numbing the nerve endings. Going back to our lesson on types of ankle sprain, you’ll recall that the ankle’s ligament has been torn. When this happens, the body’s natural response is to send white blood cells to the injured area. This triggers an increase in blood flow and fluid to the ankle. Cold can reduce the swelling (which also causes pain) in the injured area.
If you’re like most people, you’ve grabbed a bag of ice (or the infamous bag of frozen peas) and applied it to your injury in the past. But the ice melts or you might not have a bag of frozen peas, so you may be inclined to just skip it and deal with the pain. Our wraps have a cold sleeve that fits into our compression wrap. All that is needed is to have the cold sleeve in the freezer (or ice chest) so it’s cold when you need it.
Compression is known to prevent or reduce excessive swelling. Our ankle wrap connects to a portable handheld machine that uses air to systematically apply compression to the ankle. This manually moves edema (inflammatory fluid) out of the injured area and promotes faster healing.
Remember our friend Charlie at the beginning of this guide? The guy who couldn’t wait to get back out there and exercise? Well like many, Charlie made one big mistake that made his ankle recovery WAY slower. He used his PowerPlay ankle wrap inconsistently. Once Charlie’s ankle started feeling better and he started running again, he ditched his PowerPlay wrap. The result was that he became injured again.
Inconsistency is the bane of any physician or physical therapist’s existence. To be successful for any prescribed treatment plan, the patient has to be committed to the full treatment. To truly have a speedy recovery, you need to be consistent about using your PowerPlay ankle wrap, not only during the recovery process but also after each time you exercise when you start exercising on your ankle again.
When you consistently use the PowerPlay ankle wrap, you are manually pushing lactic acid and other edema that can cause pain and the feeling of being “sore” out of the ankle and back into circulation. When you exercise, whether you’re injured or not, this process can help prevent injury and keep you feeling “fresh” and ready to get back into the game.
Mobility or Stability Ankle Exercises
Working on your ankle’s mobility will help aid the recovery process and help prevent ankle injuries in the future. If your ankle injury causes a lack of ankle mobility, it will be hard to keep your foot stable and a subsequent ankle injury will likely occur.
If you need a place to start to find mobility exercises, ACE Fitness (acefitness.org) has some good options on their website.
Ace Fitness: Exercises to Strengthen Your Ankles
Ace Fitness: Exercises to Improve Stability
If you suspect you have a more severe ankle sprain or fracture, we highly encourage you to seek professional treatment as surgery may be required.
Best of luck to Charlie and all our friends recovering from ankle injuries. If you have specific questions we can help with when it comes to cold and compression therapy, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a customer support team ready to answer your questions 24 hours a day!