What are Weak Ankles?
Sprains and strains are some of the most common problems, especially in the ankle. If you have sprained your ankle then it will be a weak area of the body possibly for some time. Each year around 2 million patients are treated for sprains and strains to the ankle and they are the most common injuries treated by orthopaedists and podiatrists.
A sprain occurs when the ligaments around the ankle joint get stretched, twisted or at the very worst, torn. This usually happens as a result of a fall or injury that forces the ankle to twist the wrong way. All ankle injuries involve a sudden loss of control as the unexpected twist overstretches the tendon.
Causes of Ankle Sprains and Weak Ankles
Anyone, from the most honed athletes to the most sedentary person can suffer from an ankle sprain as most cases stem from accidents such as twisting on an uneven floor, or pavement crack or slipping on a wet surface. However there has been an increase in the amount of strains resulting from women falling in high heels either at work or during socialising.
There are also some predisposed conditions that increase the risk of ankle injury:
- High Arches left unsupported
- Neuromuscular disorders that cause the foot to invert the ankle
- Naturally weak muscles around the joint
- Looseness of the ligaments
- Leg length discrepancy
- Previous injuries that have weakened the area
Symptoms of Ankle Sprains and Weak Ankles
If you have weak ankles you will notice that they don’t take as much pressure, strain or weight as they used to. They may also tire easily.
As ankle sprains that caused the weak ankle differ in their severity – from a mild over stretch to a full tear of the ligament, there are typically 3 different grades of seriousness attributed to the condition:
- Mild sprain, caused by a quick overstretch. Crutches can be supplied to ease mobility.
- A partial tear to the ligament with consequent swelling and impaired mobility
- Full tear of the ligament with severe swelling, internal bleeding and loss of mobility
If left untreated, the severe ankle strains can weaken the ankle for life and this poor healing will mean the ankle is more likely to give way in the future.
Relief and Prevention of Ankle Sprains and Weak Ankles
There is a common and traditional procedure for dealing with even the most severe sprains – this is referred to as the RICE method.
R – Rest the injured ankle – depending on the severity of the injury, this may involve crutches and/or a splint
I – Ice should be applied to the area for 20 minutes every hour to ease the swelling
C – Compress the injured area using a bandage, allowing for swelling to increase.
E – Elevate the injury above heart level for 48 hours after the injury occurred to ease swelling and speed recovery times.
There are also precautions that should be taken after the ankle heals and to get strength back in that area:
- Continue to support the ankle during any activity – with strapping or a special support
- Stretch the affected area properly before exercise
- Wear the correct supportive footwear and avoid high heels and very flat shoes. Supportive footwear will have a firm heel counter, a wide toe box, a medium to firm shank and a removable inner sole.