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New insights into ankle sprains

Sprained ankles are the most frequent type of musculoskeletal injury seen by primary-care providers. Ankle sprains are common sports injuries but also happen during everyday activities. An ankle sprain can happen when you fall, when you suddenly twist your ankle too far, or when you force the joint out of its normal position. Certain Ankle Sprains are considerably worse than others. The severity of an ankle sprain depends on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, as well as on the number of ligaments involved in the sprain.

A study published by the American Journal of Sports Medicine in June last year gave an insight into how ankle sprains are influenced by the alignment of the foot just before it strikes the ground.  The study was undertaken by a group of athletes using comprehensive motion analysis as they were running or walking.  One conclusion from the study was that subjects who had a history of ankle sprain had similar foot positioning just before the foot hit the ground- the foot tended to be more flexed with toes pointed downwards. When the participant’s feet hit the ground in this flexed-down position, the foot becomes susceptible to inverting, or in other words, rolling on its side, leading to an ankle sprain.

Ankle sprains can be a recurrent problem because ankle ligaments tend to deteriorate after a sprain, causing ankle instability and susceptibility to the occurrence of future sprains.  This study’s findings may help in tailoring and manufacturing preventative care for frequent “sprainers” such as with orthotics and footwear recommendations, which can provide more stability to the feet when they make contact with the ground.  The findings may also prove helpful in physiotherapy and sports training where better running or walking dynamics can be taught.

The Physio Company provides such orthotic assessment and treatment customised to every individual through the use of a Gait Scan and tailored orthotic inserts which may help in the prevention of re-occurrence of such ankle sprains. This service is provided in all of our clinic locations in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford.