Despite a sprained ankle being a common sports injury, the injury has a high recurrence rate and there is no adequate information on the decision to return to sport. Contact sports, both professional or amateur, have high rates of ankle sprain because of the ranges in speed, mobility, and direction change. The injury is predominant in older athletes during official games and the second half of a football match. Most of the sprains are due to contact or direct trauma. Most athletes manage ankle sprains with conservative methods and return to play. However, a proper prognosis offers evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation for a faster return to sport participation.
There are different grades of ankle sprains that have different time frames on how soon it is safe to return to sports. The type of activity you are involved in determines the strength and stability needed to accomplish the activity. However, even the grades and their time frames vary case by case. Rehab offers a safe transition back to sports and minimizes chances of recurrence.
Grades of ankle sprain
Grade 1: These are light sprains that will allow you to return to sport in almost three weeks.
Grade 2: It involves injury to the ligament and it can take up to 6 weeks before you return to sport.
Grade 3: Is severe with full tearing of the ligament and may include a bone fracture. The length of recovery can take three months or more to recover.
Requirements for returning to sports after a sprain
You should be able to retain a range of motion which is vitally important. In grade three ankle sprains, you are required to be immobile for some time and once your podiatrist allows you to start moving your ankle you will have exercises and manual techniques that will help with the process. Lack of this range of motion puts unnecessary stress on the lower limb structures as you return to sport.
The strength of the ankle must get back to a safe level. The ligament is stressed appropriately through the rehab period to ensure the new collagen is stronger and heals in good shape. The level of strength varies through activities and if you have been immobilized you might have developed weakness in the lower limp. The foot is screened to address the areas of weakness better.
Proprioception and balance reduce the risk of recurrence. A sprain affects the receptors to the brain and exercises ensure that the ankle retains proprioception and balance.
Support or taping gives you more confidence, especially when returning to activities. Though it should be used as a short-term strategy as the ankle progresses gradually to become independent. It should be done with the help of your podiatrist.
Functional screening is recommended and various aspects considered before returning to activity.
Five main domains to look at before returning to sport include pain during sports participation, ankle impairment, athlete perception in terms of psychological readiness and confidence, and agility and ability to complete a training session. Ankle sprains are common, but they must be treated right away. Contact DeNiel Foot and Ankle Center’s Ejodamen Shobowale if you need your feet checked. Our doctor can give you the treatment you need to stay pain-free and back on your feet. Rehabilitation is a crucial phase of recovery that involves working together with a foot doctor and a physical therapist or athletic trainer. It helps restore function and speeds up return to play. Treatment may take a few weeks or months, but conditioning to return to sport may take longer.