Ankle sprain is one of the most common sporting injuries. The most common type of sprain involves the lateral ligaments of the ankle. With more severe injuries and ligament ruptures, lateral ankle stabilisation surgery can be conducted to repair the damage and restore ankle stability. This can occur with one severe sprain or a series of repeated minor ankle sprains which can cause the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament to heal however end up more stretch resulting in less stability than prior to the injury. Some of the other determinants of ankle instability is weak peroneal muscles in the calf, mechanical instability and proprioceptive deficit.
However, after surgery it is reported that proprioceptors in the ankle are damaged and our body’s ability to sense the ankle joint position is reduced. Effective proprioceptive function is key to prevent further ligament injury. Exercise rehabilitation can restore the proprioceptors in the joint after surgery, along with the strengthening of the muscles and ligaments surrounding the ankle to increase stability. Once medically cleared, try passive then active range of motion exercises to the injured ankle. Progressive load-bearing and walking in a pool can be a great way to restore normal movement patterns in the ankle and to improve loading tolerance and prevent compensatory responses. Static, dynamic and reactive balance exercises can be incorporated starting in the pool in the earlier stages and on land on unstable surfaces in the latter stages of rehabilitation to further enhance ankle recovery. Towards end-stage rehabilitation, a return to sport-specific movements should be conducted. It is important to note that discomfort and swelling are a normal part of the recovery process and can take some months or longer to recover. If you are looking for further guidance, consult an accredited exercise physiologist.
Taylor Downes |B. HM. | GradDipClinExPhys|
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)
Halasi T, Kynsburg Á, Tállay A, et alChanges in joint position sense after surgically treated chronic lateral ankle instabilityBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2005;39:818-824.
Mattacola, C. G., & Dwyer, M. K. (2002). Rehabilitation of the Ankle After Acute Sprain or Chronic Instability. Journal of athletic training, 37(4), 413–429.
Sherry, M. (2014). Rehabilitation Guidelines for Lateral Ankle Reconstruction. Retrieved from: https://www.uwhealth.org/files/uwhealth/docs/sportsmed/SM-39916_Lateral_AnkleProtocol.pdf