In the period immediately following an ankle injury, rest is essential. You will experience pain and swelling which, depending on the severity of the injury, could last from a few days to several weeks.
In the early stages of ankle injury rehabilitation, it’s important that you make sure you don’t do anything that intensifies the pain or swelling. If the injury is going to heal properly, then resting the ankle is essential, otherwise you risk aggravating the injury and making things a lot worse.
This means trying not to put weight on your ankle – if the pain and swelling are severe, you may need to use crutches. Compression in the form of bandages or an ankle sleeve can also help to control any swelling as well as help to immobilise your ankle, giving it more stability and reducing the risk of making any movements that might worsen the injury.
Why your ankle is so crucial
Your ankle is a crucial joint in terms of weight-bearing and balance. It’s the meeting point of three bones – the tibia and fibula in your lower leg which rest on top of your heel bone, or talus. These bones are held together with a complex structure of ligaments, fibrous tissue and tendons, which attach the muscles to the bones to give the ankle joint its movement and flexibility.
In evolutionary terms, when we developed the ability to walk upright on two legs, we gave our ankles a lot of extra work to do, which is why they’re especially prone to injury. Ankle injuries are particularly common amongst athletes.
Ankle injury rehabilitation
Once the swelling and pain have eased, it’s important to begin exercising the ankle in order to regain strength and motion. An osteopath or other physical therapist will be able to give you a range of exercises to do, designed to give you the best possible outcome from the type of injury you sustained, and get your ankle back to being fully functional as quickly as possible.