The bones in a joint can stretch out the capsules, ligaments and muscles severely when an unanticipated movement occurs. When this is very painful and the joint in question (e.g. finger, wrist, knee or ankle) swells rapidly, we call this a sprain. If after the acute stadium there still is limited ‘Range of Motion’ (ROM) or too much ROM it might be wise to consult an Ortopaedic Manual Therapist (OMT). An OMT is looking for the primary cause of your complaint or trauma and will ask you a couple of questions to figure this out. A sprain is more likely to occur when:
A muscle surrounding the joint is either too tight or too loose;
straining the muscle at the wrong moment, causing too much mobility in the joint;
when the coordination of your movements isn’t optimized. This can be a neurological problem, but stress and exhaustion related factors can also influence your coordination in a negative way;
another joint in the chain of movement doesn’t move as supposed to. The sprain is then the result of compensatory behaviour.
Thorough examination will give insight in where the disruptions in the chain of movement are. The OMT will mobilize disrupted joints and also aid in regaining active stability in the joint in question. After an ankle sprain the OMT will not only examine the ankle but also the joints in the foot, knee, hip, pelvis and back. It’s imperative, for a swift recovery, that the normal chain of movement is restored as soon as possible. This way you ensure that you won’t sprain the joint in question again.
There are some precautions you can take to ensure you won’t sprain your ankle in the future.
Wear proper footwear that is not too big for your feet;
train the muscles of your lower leg.
Wear tape or a brace when engaging in risky sports activities.
However, limit the use of a brace strictly to competitive games, otherwise your ankle will ‘get used to’ the brace and the support it offers and won’t provide sufficient active stability on its own. To clarify: a bandage does not offer protection against an ankle sprain.