How to Prevent Ankle Injuries?

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Ankle problems plague active and inactive people alike. They are one of the most common – even painful – musculoskeletal injuries one can experience.

Unlike the majority of leg injuries which are sustained on a sports field, while running or while pursuing any recreational physical activity, ankle injuries like sprains can occur at anytime, anywhere. Sometimes all it takes for you to injure your ankle is a misstep that causes the front of your foot to suddenly move inwards, and the ankle joint to move out, resulting in a sprain.

While most ankle injuries tend to go away with rest and time, a ligament injury, tendon injury or fractured bones tend to be more severe and need medical attention to make a full recovery.

Function of ankle joint:

Unlike the ball-and-socket joint of our shoulders, the ankle is a hinge type joint – similar to our knees and elbows.

It is made up of three bones:

  • Tibia and Fibula in the lower legs.
  • Talus, which completes the joint with the foot.

The three bones are joined together by a group of four ligaments that allow the ankle to move up, down, sideways as well as to rotate. The ligaments of the ankle joint are:

  • Deltoid talofibular ligament
  • Anterior talofibular ligament
  • Posterior talofibular ligament
  • Calcaneofibular ligament

The ankle also helps in the catapulting movement achieved by pushing from the toe with the heel in the air, and even during simpler walking or running movements by landing on the heel first.

Symptoms of ankle injuries:

Ankle injuries are usually painful and instantly limit the range of your movement and prevent you from putting weight on the affected ankle. Here are some of the symptoms that you should look out for in the case of an injured ankle:

  • Inflammation or swelling of the affected part.
  • Mild to severe pain. In some cases, even a fracture can be mistaken for a sprain depending on the severity of the pain. Your doctor may advise you to get an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Inability to put your full weight on the ankle and limping.
  • Tender to the touch.
  • Bruising or discoloration.
  • Not being able to stand up on your toes and doing a calf raise.
  • Stiffness and reduced range of movement.
  • In the case of a dislocation, the ankle joint will look deformed and be accompanied by significant pain.

Prevention of ankle injuries:

Whether you’re an active person or a weekend-warrior, taking good care of your ankles is of the utmost importance as an injury can put you out of physical activity for a long period of time. Here are some precautions you can exercise in order to keep your ankle joints healthy:

  • Maintain healthy body weight. Being overweight puts more pressure on your joints.
  • Try to consume a balanced diet that boosts muscle build-up as well as aids muscle recovery.
  • Do not train or play with worn-out or ill-fitting shoes.
  • Exercise: There is no other activity that can keep your joints and muscles in good shape and health.
  • Warm-up and stretch before beginning a game or an exercise, or going for a run.
  • Avoid wearing high heels on uneven surfaces.
  • Stop exercising or playing if you’re feeling tired or fatigued.
  • Wear ankle braces or tapes if you’re feeling sore or uncomfortable.

Ankle injuries may look innocuous at first but they can be debilitating. Even a slight twist can cause immeasurable pain and discomfort. Maintaining a good physical regimen, eating healthy and listening to your body when it tells you to stop are key for avoiding ankle injuries.

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