5 Signs You’re Not Fully Recovered From Your Ankle Sprain

Putting You At Risk For Another, Potentially More Serious, Injury…like a torn ACL

Ankle sprains are a very common athletic injury, but the significance of an ankle sprain is frequently downplayed and many people never get back to 100%…even though they think they are fully recovered.

If you don’t fully recover from your ankle sprain, it will put you at greater risk for re-injury…or even worse, a more serious injury like an ACL tear or meniscus tear or both!  That type of injury would be devastating to your season/training and happens more than you think.

I wrote this article because I’m frustrated with athletes shrugging off the injury like it’s “no big deal” and also with the inadequate rehab being performed out there for a “simple” ankle sprain…and I don’t want any more athletes or active people to have to suffer the consequences.

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Here are 5 Signs You're Not Fully Recovered From Your Ankle Sprain:

1. Limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion

  • In my 10 years of treating patients, this is by far the most common issue I see after someone suffers ankle sprain and waits a while to seek out treatment, or doesn't fully follow through with their rehab, or receives inadequate treatment from a physical therapist who doesn't specialize in these types of injuries.
  • Limited ankle dorsiflexion can cause a whole slew of future problems...and not just at the ankle.  Like I mentioned above, it could potentially lead to a devastating knee injury (ACL tear, meniscus tear, etc), plantar fasciitis, calf strains, and so on.
  • Here is a video I made that shows you how to self-assess your ankle dorsiflexion.  Watch it, try it out, and if you can't touch your knee to the wall, your ankle mobility is limited and you should find a sports physical therapist who can help fix it.

2. Unable to hop on 1 leg without pain

  • Try hopping as high as you can in place with the leg that didn't have the ankle sprain and then compare with the leg that had the injury.  If  you can't hop without pain/discomfort or you feel like you didn't hop as high, then you shouldn't be going back to high-level activities yet.
  • Also try standing on 1 leg and hopping straight ahead as far as you can (try it on your other leg too).  Again, if you have pain/discomfort or didn't hop as far out, you still need more rehab.

3. Difficulty balancing on 1 leg

  • Try balancing on the ankle that had the injury and see how wobbly you are.  If you are all over the place, waving your arms around, and swaying back & forth, you still have work to do with that ankle and aren't ready to go back yet.
  • If balancing on flat ground is easy, make sure you try balancing on an uneven surface - try putting a pillow on the ground and balancing on that.

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4. Pain With Running

  • If you have pain with running, even if it's just a little pain, you're not fully recovered from your ankle sprain.  If you feel pain when running, your body will compensate for that pain and this can lead to increased stress on different areas of the body (commonly the structures around the knee and the bones in the foot).
  • And when you try this, start off by jogging first and then try sprinting (only if jogging didn't hurt) and then try agility drills/cutting (only if sprinting didn't hurt)

5. You're Just Not Confident In Your Ankle

  • I've had many patients over the years who did well with their rehab and are  nearing a return to their activities/sport, but they just aren't confident in their ankle.  If this is you, PLEASE take more time with your rehab and work on improving your confidence in your ankle.  If you don't, you will favor that leg when you are playing and put yourself at risk for another injury (maybe even in your other leg).

If you (or your son/daughter) suffered an ankle injury and has any of those signs, you should seek out someone who specializes in sports injuries and rehab....before it's too late and you (or they) suffer another potentially more serious injury.

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If you want some FREE help right now, I recommend reading this special report I wrote - "The 5 Steps Injured Athletes Must Take To Return To Sports As Fast As Possible"

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