If you ignore a sprained ankle, it doesn’t just go away
A sprained ankle from childhood, or later, from sports or athletic injuries, can become a problem if it is ignored.
It is easy to say, “it’s just a sprained ankle,” and continue to walk on it. Walking is a priority in our busy lives. It’s so important that you may override pain signals. And, you may not even be aware that your ankle hasn’t healed completely. In fact, after a moderate to severely sprained ankle, you may actually have less sensation in your entire foot as time goes on.
What next? Your ankle may become unstable. Then your lower leg muscles tighten to compensate. Because tight muscles limit movement, stiffness at your knee and hip may follow. Tension may then travel up your leg, into your low back. And even up to your neck! Without noticing it, your small sprained ankle has now become a big problem.
Why do I keep spraining the same ankle?
When an ankle is weakened by one sprain, or ligament tear, it is easy to sprain again, for several reasons. First, because with less sensation, you don’t feel your foot is about to roll under you. Secondly, ligaments are very slow to heal. Along with tendons, they are composed of dense, fibrous tissue that the body does not repair or replace readily.1 Thirdly, the purpose of ligaments is to stabilize a joint. When they are weakened, any movement exaggerates the instability. And finally, when one ligament is injured, other nearby ligaments are also at risk.
When your foot rolls under, it injures ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
30% of people will suffer long lasting symptoms after a first ankle sprain
A moderate to severely sprained ankle needs to be treated to prevent long term disability. Dr. Eric Wikstrom, et al, write, “Ankle sprains are often believed—quite wrongly—to be inconsequential. As a result, more than half of people who sprain an ankle do not seek medical treatment.” (Ankle Sprains: treating to prevent the long-term consequences). They continue, “roughly 30% of people who suffer a first-time ankle sprain”…”go on to suffer residual symptoms indefinitely.”
You may avoid walking because of a perception of instability. Gradually, you may limit other activities. As your muscles tighten, you may then blame your age for stiffness or balance problems. Long term consequences might even include ankle osteoarthritis. And, you may not realize that the old sprained ankle is still a problem because you no longer have pain there!2
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a partial or complete tear of a ligament.1 Like the founder of Muscular Therapy Institute, Ben Benjamin says: “While it is healthy for us to have muscles that are loose and relaxed, it is not healthy for us to have ligaments that are loose.” When ankle ligaments become loose, muscles tighten.
Upstream from a sprained ankle…
As the body attempts to compensate, muscles tighten to help stabilize when you walk. However, our body functions as an integrated unit. So tight muscles can travel!
Sprained Ankle Research (including Rosi’s!)
In 2013, I discovered that Ortho-Bionomy® could help to heal clients’ longstanding ligament injuries. They reported that years of elbow, shoulder, knee, and ankle pain resolved, sometimes in just one session. I was curious why.
Then I read about a physical therapist, Mohamed Khalifa. He is the go-to therapist for top athletes with torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) of the knee.3 ACL ruptures often requires surgery with long recovery times. Instead, he uses deep rhythmic pressure.4
Like my treatments,5 his took about an hour. What surprised me, was that he also felt an electrical tingling sensation when the ligament was healing. I don’t use deep pressure, but the gentle touch of Ortho-Bionomy®. It is based on the osteopathic principle of the body’s self-healing capacity. My hypothesis is that we are stimulating fibroblasts, the cells that normally form the scaffolding for regrowth of tissue.6
Increased sensory awareness improves healing
Dr. Wikstrom has also discovered massage-friendly strategies to heal chronic ankle instability. His research, with younger athletes, targets relief of muscle tension, increased sensory awareness, and improved ankle biomechanics to prevent reinjury.7
Since I read his research, I have learned how to adapt his protocols to older athletes who may have knee pain, or hip or back complications.
Can Integration Massage heal my ankle?
There’s different kinds of ankle sprains. The more common lateral, posterior and medial ankle sprains all respond well. However, there’s no guarantees!
What happens in a session?
- First, I will ask for your ankle injury history.
- Then, I will examine how you stand, walk, lunge and/or squat. I will watch for balance, ankle movement, or instability. And I will compare left to right.
- Next, I will assess your pain, muscle tension and ankle sensation while you are lying on the table. I may check both hips, knees, ankles and feet.
- Ortho-Bionomy® and movement relieve the tight muscles, release pain and tension. Massage and touch increase your sensory awareness.
- Finally, visualization, stability and strengthening exercises will help you correct how your ankle moves.
- Then you need to adapt to a new way of walking! I will ask you to do mindful exercises between sessions.
You may require one to six sessions for simple injuries, more for more complex ones.
Do you want to move forward in life again?
If you have an ankle that turns under, or a history of old ankle sprains, and it has limited your activities, call 503-708-2911. Or schedule an appointment at your convenience: Schedule Appointment I am here to help you get moving again!
1 Tendon and Ligament Regeneration and Repair
2 Hertel, J., 2008. Sensorimotor Deficits with Ankle Sprains and Chronic Ankle Instability
3 “International top athletes from various disciplines reported a rapid pain relief, and even full recovery, immediately after his one hour treatment.” (ClinicalTrials.gov)
4 47% of Mohamed Khalifa’s patients showed complete ACL healing on MRI after a one hour treatment. (PubMed: RCT of Manual Khalifa Therapy for ACL Rupture).
5 As Gerhard Litscher reported from Gisbert Niederführ’s book and interviews with Khalifa.
6 The University of Copenhagen research on tendon healing suggests something similar: “A new treatment strategy could involve trying to provoke the dormant tendon cells to wake up and start repairing the tendon”.
7 Wikstrom, E., 2016, Sensory-Targeted Ankle Rehabilitation Strategies for Chronic Ankle Instability