Originally posted on NTP forum. Didn't receive a response and figured posting here is more likely to reach people who can speak to this situation.
I had a moderate ankle sprain a couple weeks ago. I'm approaching the point of being able to walk without pain, so I'm looking ahead to resuming training and looking for advice on how best to get back to it.
As a reference point, after hurting it, I basically spent the next week resting my ankle and doing range of motion exercises, but have ditched the crutches and been walking a lot more the past couple days, though with a brace.
What are some things people have done to strengthen a sprained ankle and get back into this kind of training? Also, any advice on how best to ease back into the training schedule? As soon as I can walk without pain, I'm planning to get back into the swing of things.
Dan - I sprained my ankle 2 ½ years ago. Don't underestimate the long-term impacts of this injury. It sounds like you've been active, which is good. But, are you doing PT? I highly recommend it. Not only that, I'd recommend sticking with for a few weeks AFTER you feel back to 100% to ensure strength and stability has really returned. While I was doing PT, I was swimming, biking and aqua-jogging. Real world running came back last, and I started with a walk-run program before I built up volume. But again, I can't over-emphasize the importance of seeing a PT. He/she will help you with exercises to build strength, range of motion and stability.
Here is food for thought:
I do agree with getting checked out, by you doc and/or PT. You need to find the severity of your ankle srpain. Was it a Grade 1, 2, or 3. Along with that, they will give you exercises to increase strength and proprioception (muscles ability to fire in a certain pattern to maintain stability). Depending on the severity you can start aqua jogging. You will not increase musculature, but at least you can maintain with minimal loss to muscle and leg endurance. Good food for thought:
- takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks to heal form strained ligament, but you can do exercise with pain as a guideline
- you are more likely to resprain an ankle in the first 2 weeks, due to the lack of proprioception, so be mindful and attentive with activity.
- ligaments done heal and return to orginal size. Once stretch, they stay that length, and heal. So very important to maintain surrounding musculature, as it's your secondary stabilazer for your joints.
Again this is what I have learned in my years working with the PT community and is by no ways a substitute for actually getting seen.
Thanks for the great feedback. Was thinking about PT, but wasn't really sure how necessary it was or whether I could just go about strengthening it carefully on my own. The sprain was enough to put me on crutches for a week, but definitely not a Level 3 sprain--I had one of those 11 years ago (though, wasn't training for a tri at the time). I know a good orthopedist, so I may book an appointment.
I was thinking about aqua jogging--haven't done it before, but it seems like it might be a good way to start, so it's good to hear people think it'd help. As long as I'm walking, are there any issues with beginning that while there's still mild pain? And what's a good routine for that--just push through a handful of laps?
About 12 years ago I sprained one of my ankles about three weeks before a marathon hoping to set a new PR. I was putting in close to 60-mile weeks. Needless to say, I didn't run the marathon. I did end up running it the following year. Two years later I sprained the other ankle. All in all, I was off my feet for about three weeks.
One thing I did was swim to help stay fit and build strength in my ankles. Mainly, I used the flutter kick. It was tough at first, but it did help. A good way to tell if you have the ankle strength back is if you can kick with no pain, especially with fins. To me, I felt this was the quickest way back to recovery. Good luck.
Pain should ALWAYS be a factor in training. If it's hurting, then you are irritating something. Pain is secondary to some form of swelling, whether it may be gross swelling, or molecular. So the more you irritates something, the more you might cause swelling, which will cause more pain. Gotta break that pain cycle before you can get back in the swing of things. Good Luck
I've managed to sprain both my ankles over the last two years. Agree with others that PT is key in getting you back up to speed. For me, stability when I was tired was a big issue. The ligament I sprained were stabilizing ones. I got back into training by doing shorter workouts - sometimes twice a day. And while I think that ankle braces are goofy, if I knew that I was in for a long run or hike I'd wear one just to be sure I didn't tweak it because I was tired.