Return to Sport: Ankle Injuries

It’s coming up to sport season again. Footie boots, netball gear, orange slices and all of the aches and pains that are synonymous with kids sports. But how bad should an ache or a pain be before you go and see someone? Ankle sprains are the most common injury in active and sporting individuals. From a simple rolling of the ankle to a ligamentous tear, a physiotherapist can help. Mild sprain injuries result in a stretching of the ligaments which normally act as a passive restraint and support the ankle with twisting movements. As these ligaments stretch, it becomes easier and easier to re-injure the ankle. Ankle injuries can present with swelling, stiffness and pain.
Sometimes, pain may present in three ways; 1) pain only during activity, 2) pain upon rest following activity, or 3) pain upon waking the following morning after an activity. The presence of pain is the body’s way of warning you that a certain activity may be causing you harm, such as the stretching and tearing of the ligaments around the ankle. Pain following an activity indicates the presence of inflammation. Playing through pain may create a cycle of chronic inflammation which will hinder healing and prolong an injury. Inflammation is commonly treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation.
If your child is complaining of persisting pain and swelling around the ankle, it may be time to visit your local physiotherapist. With ligamentous stretching, the ankle becomes unstable and people may also experience a loss of balance. Commonly physiotherapists advise rest for 3-5 days in an acutely inflamed ankle, giving a compression bandage to help alleviate swelling. As pain diminishes with rest, your physio will prescribe exercises to help improve ankle stability to reduce recurrence risk.
The next big question is should your child use tape or a brace during sport? Ideally, the exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist will aim to improve stability. Though while the ankle is strengthening (which can take six to ten weeks) your child will be heading back to sport. There are pro’s and con’s to both options as seen in the table. Ultimately it is personal preference. If you are concerned about your children’s ankles in the upcoming sporting season, why not give our friendly physiotherapists a call at Hinteractive Physio on 5442 5556 and book an appointment.

Not Bulky Skin irritation and pain with removal
Improves joint position awareness Expensive long term
Difficult to self apply
Long lasting Bulky, difficult to fit in shoe
Easy to self apply Brace slipping with movement

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