Ankle Sprains – Recovering your Proprioception

Ankle sprains can affect even the most seasoned runner among us.  A crack in the pavement, change in slope of the road or trail, or objects in our path can all play into a misstep that sends are ankle moving the wrong way. Stairs at home or finding your way to the bathroom in the dark of night are other easy ways to injure yourself in the comfort of your own home. As our blog has tried to point out before, ankle sprains can easily become a chronic problem if not treated properly.   We recommend you seen one of our podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

 

One of the hardest things to recover after an ankle injury is your proprioception.  While the RICE principle can alleviate discomfort and help you to regain function, the muscles and ligaments may still be weak and likely to become reinjured.  

 

Proprioception is mediated by sensory nerves specific to monitoring your body in space.  For example, we do not put a lot of conscious thought into standing upright.  Your body adjusts muscle pull and tension to keep you standing upright through the proprioceptors in your body.   Similarly, these nerves in your ankle help to keep your ankle in proper alignment and balance on your foot through feedback to the muscles that affect it. All runners should consider adding activities that improve ankle strength and balance to avoid ankle sprains.

 

An easy way to test your ankle proprioception is to stand on one foot and close your eyes.  First, make sure you are near a wall or support so that you don’t actually fall down.  If you find that you must immediately support yourself with the wall or place your other foot down to the ground to avoid falling, your proprioceptors are not functioning properly.  Balance training is an easy way to correct this.  This therapy is a part of our ankle injury rehabilitation we offer through our Physical Therapy and Wellness Center.  By improving your proprioception through balance training and physical therapy, you can prevent the reinjures that are all too often found with untreated ankle sprains.

 

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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