You took an iffy step off a curb or overextended yourself on your recent run, and now you have a sprained ankle. With a couple of weeks of rest, you’ll be as good as new… right?
Unfortunately, sprained ankles rarely work out that way in real life. With many sprained ankles, people tend to cut the rest time short and then continue to injure themselves when they get back to regular activity. Worse, many people underestimate the damage done to their ankle: maybe it’s a tendon injury, or maybe you’ve got a broken bone!. Not understanding the extent of your actual injury can make recovery that much harder.
That’s why it’s important to understand how a sprained ankle is never “just” a sprained ankle, and what you can do to help your body recover properly.
Our bodies are created to keep moving forward, and with that comes a whole lot of compensation patterns.
Take that sprained ankle, for example. It’s not severe enough to need X-rays or a visit to the emergency room, but it hurts! You can’t really put your full weight on it, so you’re limping around. And you can’t just kick back and elevate your ankle — you have a life to lead and stuff to get done! So you push through the pain.
Unfortunately, just a few days of limping can kick off a chain of events and issues that travel throughout your body.
An ankle sprain injury can force your foot into an incorrect position. How you step and how you put weight on your foot are then affected. Your knee movement and your gait are now different. Because your knee has adapted, that in turn can cause your hip to move differently. And then, your trunk movements have to compensate.
Suddenly, your simple ankle sprain has turned into a backache or pain in your shoulder.
Your body adapts to pain or injuries on demand. While it’s nice that your body can care for itself, in theory, we’re often unaware of these adaptations. Once our injury has healed, we keep moving in these new adapted patterns. These patterns later lead to a mysterious new injury that seem to come out of nowhere.
The last thing you may want is someone touching that sprained ankle, but an experienced physical therapist can help ease the pain and get you back on your feet more quickly. A physical therapist can assess your health and devise a customized plan for your recovery.
If you do work with a physical therapist, or you have special exercises you need to do to recover, commit to them. These exercises are important for keeping up mobility and strength. If you slack off, your recovery may take much longer.
If you’re still able to work out, tell any fitness trainers you work with or class instructors that you have an injury. They’ll modify your exercises to keep you safe and prevent further injury.
Lastly, give your body a break, literally and figuratively! Rest when you need to. If your recovery isn’t going as you expected, be patient. Healing is never a straightforward path. There will be ups and downs as you regain your strength, range of motion, and stamina.
Not sure what you should do next for your sprained ankle recovery? Call Pilates in the Grove today for a free 15-minute telehealth consultation! Talk to a specialist from the comfort of your own home, who can help you figure out your next step toward healing.