#856 3 Phases of ankle sprain recovery in runners - DOC

#856 3 Phases of ankle sprain recovery in runners

What are the three phases of ankle sprain recovery in runners? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.



If you’re out on a trail run, and you roll your ankle and it’s black and blue and swollen, you may think you just have to take a few days off. In fact, if you look, you may actually find a study that says that if you do early range of motion and all this stuff, it only takes four days to get back to pre-injury levels of activity. However, if you do that, you can wind up with a lot of pain later so I wouldn’t suggest that.

There are really four phases of ankle sprain injury recovery that you really need to think about and if you understand them, it’ll help you get back to training and running without another ankle sprain later.

The first thing is in phase one, it’s really simple. You want to protect the ankle from further injury, and you want to decrease the inflammation. Now, just because it doesn’t hurt that much, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run on it. I saw an ultra-runner recently who was actually running on a trail, she rolled her ankle, she said it didn’t hurt that much she kept running. And because she actually had some decreased feeling in the ankle, because she just rolled it, she rolled it again, on that same run when she was on her way back to the car and she broke her fifth metatarsal in the process. That is not a way to get back to running sooner.

You want to protect it, no further injury, and you need to control and reduce the inflammation, so that you can get back to running quickly. If you don’t control the inflammation and it really swells up badly, it’s going to take a lot longer to heal.

The second phase is where you immobilize the ankle, get it moving again, and you strengthen everything that’s going to stabilize your ankle. This is important. So, if you do some strengthening exercises that actually help hold your ankle stable and keep it from rolling under you, it’s going to be stronger when you start running again.

Then the third phase is to restore the proprioception. Proprioception is just a fancy word for your positioning in space. So, if for example, if you close your eyes and I pull your thumb up, you know that it’s up, if I pull it down, you know it’s down, because you have nerve fibers that stretch in the ankle joint and tell your brain where your foot is underneath you. So, when it starts to roll over, your brain says okay, it’s rolling over this way we need to pull the peroneus brevis muscle so it pulls on the tenant and gets the foot back under us.

If you roll your ankle and you tear those nerve fibers, you lose that. But by doing some specific exercises to actually train the stretch receptors in your legs to take over the function of those damaged nerve fibers, you can get that proprioception back. If you do not do that, there’s a huge risk that you’re going to get another injury later. In fact, it could reduce your risk of another ankle sprain by as much as 35% based on some studies. It’s really important to do that. And the fact is that most of the runners I see who have had an ankle sprain who do the stuff right in the beginning, once they get better, they forget about the proprioception because it seems tedious, it seems time consuming and they skip it. That’s a mistake.

If you want to learn more about ankle sprains and ankle pain in runners after an ankle sprain, well, I do a deep dive into this. It’s the ankle sprain masterclass. You can sign up you can join me, you can join for free, you can get it at www.docontherun.com/anklepainmasterclass. So, go check it out, and I’ll see you in the training.