At our clinics, we see many people who have an ankle sprain. It is a very common event that impacts both young and the old. And though it can cause substantial short-term pain, swelling, and functional difficulties, most people consider ankle injuries to be fairly inconsequential for the long-term. But, in the words of College Football Gameday’s Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”
Recent research indicates that even a single ankle sprain could impact how a person moves for the rest of her life! Healthy ankles are essential for efficient movement, and movement inefficiencies tend to have cumulative consequences.
Dr. Tricia Hubbard-Turner, a professor of kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has authored three studies on this subject. One study recruited 40 young college students, half with chronic ankle instability and half with healthy ankles. After wearing a pedometer for one week, she found that those with ankle problems moved substantially less – 2,000 fewer steps on average each day!
In another study, Dr. Hubbard-Turner and her colleagues performed a procedure that caused mild ankle sprains in rodents. After allowing time for the injury to heal, the researchers tracked the mice’s activity habits and compared them to healthy mice. The previously-injured mice had worse balance (more slips off a balance beam) and ran significantly less mileage on their wheels – even one year after the injury! Yes, even a single ankle sprain can lead to far more inactivity throughout an individual’s life span.
With this knowledge, Dr. Hubbard-Turner gave the following recommendation to The New York Times: “Don’t ignore an ankle sprain,” she said. Consult a physical therapist about treatment and rehabilitation, and have a PT perform balance testing to better understand the significance of your movement inefficiency. And, most importantly, learn from them some simple exercises that can help you move more efficiently.
The New York Times has a short online video that runs through some simple balance exercises (http://www.nytimes.com/video/magazine/1194841399365/ankles-a-balancing-act.html), but we also encourage you to contact Kinetic Edge today to schedule time with our movement experts so that you can transform your life and experience real gains in health, happiness, and hope!