Rolling your ankle can be a rather unpleasant yet common injury, affecting both athletes and non-athletes with little prejudice. It is important with this injury to ensure proper care is taken to reduce risk of further, lasting injury.

What is a rolled ankle?

A rolled ankle is an inverted ankle injury where the outside (lateral) ligaments around the ankle bone become sprained and the tendons located on the outer side of the lower leg (medically, the lateral peroneal compartment) are strained. Strains and sprains sound similar—and in a way they are. Both are a mild type of injury, but they afflict to different parts of the body.

  • Sprains are essentially injuries caused by an overstretching and/or tearing of a ligament.
  • Strains are injuries to the muscles and tendons associated with a particular joint.

What causes a rolled ankle?

One of the most common cause of a rolled ankle is taking a misstep. For example, walking on gravel or uneven ground, stepping off of a curb, walking on a slick surface and you stumble or misjudge the placement of your foot. Your foot turns awkwardly inward while the ankle is protruding outward and taking on the bulk of your body weight. The outside ankle typically does not have to support much weight and as a result, the joint is stressed.

How to care for a rolled ankle?

When you injure your ankle in such a way, the first thing to do is minimize putting weight on that foot and following these recommendations.

Address the Pain and Inflammation

When you first injury your ankle, your instinct will be to minimize using the foot or putting weight on it. Follow this instinct. A rolled ankle is more severe than a mild stumble and jolt of pain from a misstep. While it is not as severe as a sprained or broken ankle, you still need to take appropriate care and action. Most importantly rest and elevate the ankle. Take an anti-inflammatory medication or a natural supplement—turmeric, garlic, and bromelain are excellent ingredients.

Improve Your Proprioception

You may be thinking, “My proprio-what?”

Proprioception is the ability to know where a part of your body is without having to see it. For example, close your eyes and reach out with one of your hands, pointing a finger. With your eyes still closed think about where your finger—your brain is aware that your arm is outstretched and your finger is pointing, and in what direction. This ability or sense is called proprioception.

When you stumble over uneven ground and roll your ankle, proprioception is damaged. To improve it once more, there is an exercise you can do—after the pain and inflammation in the joint have subsided. Stand on one foot—either is fine, you’ll be switching it up to complete the exercise anyways—and attempt to remain balanced on the one flat foot for a full minute with as little of wobbling or setting down your other foot as possible. Once you’ve got this down, try doing it over with your eyes closed or stand on a wobble board to further improve your balance and proprioception.

Visit a Massage Therapist

Rolled ankles take some time to heal, which means a period of time shifting the majority of your weight to your other foot. As a result, this causes an imbalance in your stance, your hips, and your spine. Over an extended period of time, this can also lead to or worsen neuromuscular issues. Seeking the aid of a trained and skilled massage therapist can help to retrain your muscle memory and minimize pain. You can also have your ankle and the surround area targeted via a Sports Massage to help promote proper healing of the injury.

Continuing Care

It is important to continue care to prevent re-injury of your ankle. One of the best ways to do this is to strengthen and stretch your leg’s lateral muscles. An ideal exercise is to sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. Left one foot and trace the letters of the alphabet in the air and repeat with the other foot. You can also schedule an appointment for our new service, Assisted Stretch to help improve your flexibility, reduce reinjury, and help promote proper healing of your ankle. We can help massage you through to recovery, give us a call today to schedule your appointment.