Coming to the end of the winter sports season, Physio Inq Engadine are seeing so many ankle injuries. Ankle sprains are one of the most common sporting injuries. The most common risk factor is previous history of ankle injuries or instability: poor rehabilitation from a previous sprain drastically increases the chances of recurrence. So, you do need physiotherapy for your rolled ankle! Here we answer what each “grade” of sprain means, and how to figure out when you are ready to get back into your sport.
What is an ankle sprain?
An ankle sprain is when one or more of the ankle ligaments are partially or completely torn. It could be an inversion or eversion sprain, i.e. twisting or rolling in or out. It will affect the ability to weight-bear. The recovery times vary depending on the severity of the sprain.
Grade I, Grade II, or Grade III?
The traditional grading system for ligament sprains is:
- Grade I – microscopic injury without macroscopic stretching
- Grade II – macroscopic stretching without rupture
- Grade III – complete rupture
This grading system really only works if it is one single ligament injured. Instead you can grade by the severity of the sprain injury:
- Grade I – mild swelling and tenderness without impacting function
- Grade II – moderate swelling, pain, impact on function and instability
- Grade III – severe swelling, pain, loss of function and marked instability
When am I ready to get back to sport?
There are some simple tests we can use to determine when you can return to sport after an ankle sprain.
- Knee to Wall test: Measure your ankle joint range of motion by comparing the distance of your injured foot to the wall against your unaffected foot to the wall. Try to bend your knee to touch the wall without lifting your heel off the ground. They should measure the same.
- Hop Length test: Measure how far you can hop on your injured leg against your affected leg. They should measure within 5cm.
- Single leg heel raises off a step. Aim for 25 reps each side.
- Hop on and off a step. Aim for 10 reps each side.
Don’t jump the gun and return to sport without properly rehabilitating or you are virtually guaranteed re-injury. Seek the advice of a Physio Inq Engadine physiotherapist to make sure you make a full recovery. Our physiotherapists will give you an accurate diagnosis, help you manage your swelling and pain (including with taping if appropriate – you can see one of our great techniques in the video below), and give you strength, flexibility and balance exercises to reduce the risk of re-injury or persisting symptoms like stiffness, weakness and instability. Get in contact with us today if you want to know more or need help with your ankle injury.
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