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Ankle Injuries: What the Heck is Going On?Ankle injuries are probably the most common injuries in the sports world. Your ankles are like that annoying "friend" that is always leaving you when you need him the most. They are constantly being injured, and you always have to be careful that you don't hurt them when you play sports, dance, practice martial arts, or do pretty much anything active. If you don't take care of them, you may find that they start having problems later on in your life.
Understanding Ankle InjuriesMost of the time, the ankle injury that you suffer is a sprain, which occurs on the outside of your ankle. The damage happens to the various ligaments that hold your ankle bones and joints in place, as the ligaments are torn when your ankle bone rolls outward. It's called an inversion type sprain, and it can be mild (just a bit of pain), moderate (pain and limited mobility), or severe (torn ligaments, leading to severe pain and swelling).
Treating Ankle InjuriesIf you've sprained your ankles, the best thing to do is to treat it right away. Many coaches and trainers will tell you to "walk it off", and that will work if you've got a mild ankle sprain. The ligament will repair itself as you continue to use the ankle, and you will not suffer from the swelling simply because you kept using it - keeping the blood flowing to the damaged part. However, if you've damaged the ankle moderately or severely, it's time to use the PRICE treatment to deal with the pain:
P is for Protection -- Rather than letting the ankle get hurt again, you need to wrap it in a protective wrap. You can use ACE bandages, or there are many sports wraps to use. You can try AirCasts, or just use an athletic bracer. Whatever you want to use, just make sure that it won't be sprained again.
R is for Rest -- You need to get off your ankle for a few hours to a few days - depending on the severity of your injury. If the injury is very bad, you should definitely get off your feet for a day or two. If it's just a mild sprain, reduce the amount of activity you do over the next few hours - giving your ankle time to repair itself.
I is for Ice -- If there's one thing that will help to reduce the swelling and pain in your ankles, it's ice. Ice will stop the injured ligament from swelling up, which will ensure that your blood vessels can repair it quickly. You should apply ice as soon as you can after the injury, as that will prevent swelling quickly.
C is for Compression -- Ice helps to slow the swelling, but applying compression to the ankle will help to reduce swelling even more. You want to wrap the ankle tight enough that you feel the support, but not so tight that it throbs.
E is for Elevation --Get that ankle up high - above the level of your heart - to decrease blood flow to the damaged area. This will slow down the swelling, and will ensure that your body can repair the damaged limb quickly and easily.
How To Prevent Ankle InjuriesTo prevent ankle injuries:
- Use sports tape -- Tape makes an easy ankle wrap, but it will lose its stiffness pretty quickly.
- Braces -- Ankle braces can help to reduce your risk of injuries, but don't rely on them too heavily. They're cheaper than tape in the long run.
- Shoes -- The right pair of shoes will help to improve ankle stability and add support. High-tops are some of the best shoes for those with ankle problems.