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The Truth About Chronic Ankle Sprains

Ballet dancers on pointe

Are you always twisting or rolling your ankles? Do you feel like you have "weak" ankles? Do you walk on the outside of your feet or do your shoes wear to one side more than the other? We are going to dive into the WHYS and the HOWS!

The foot is a pretty complex series of joints, muscles and ligaments. The ankle can point and flex, but also moves in motions called inversion, eversion, pronation, and supination. These motions are critical in balance, stability, and shock absorption. These motions of the ankle joint also reflect the motions that occur at the femurs and pelvis (abduction and adduction). If you lack the ability to abduct/adduct your femurs or your innominate (pelvis) bones, then you may see an increase in pronation/supination at the foot when you are standing.

If you lose your balance to one side, let's say the right, your femur and pelvis should adduct (move to the left) and your foot should pronate as a counterweight to help right yourself. For people who like to keep their weight on the outside of their feet, they cannot pronate well and most likely exhibit limitations in adduction at the hip on that side. Without that counterweight, there is no control so the ankle will oversupinate and injury will occur.

How does the pelvis/femur lose adduction? Most common reason - too much back extension. Back extension promotes ABDUCTION of the femur and pelvis. Extension based sports typically have high instances of ankle sprains - such as tennis, dance, gymnastics, football (linemen), and volleyball. Dancers have a significantly high instance of sprains because not only do they spend alot of time in extension, but their legs are also always turned out, promoting abduction and back extension.

Reducing and recovering from ankle sprains here at JEMC consists of a few activities you might not expect. While yes, we might do a few ankle stability activities, we will actually spend the bulk of our treatments on restoring hip and femur adduction and internal rotation. Here's a few things we want you to be able to do to prevent future ankle sprains

1) Perform a full and proper squat without lifting heels or extending back/ribcage

2) Pronate and supinate your foot appropriately through the walking cycle

3) Exhibit proper landing mechanics - stepping down from step, jumping, sports-specific landing

4) Restore true integration abdominal and glute function (not just "build up" those muscles, but be able to use them appropriately!)

5) Restore full hip extension and reduce back extension

6) Improve ribcage mobility and position

7) Correct respiratory/diaphragm dysfunction

If you are having ankle issues, we would love to work with you! Please click here to learn more about our unique physical therapy approach!


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