Dealing with Ankle Injuries

Article written by Wil Seto of Insync Physiotherapy

As someone who used to play Ultimate and now works a lot with Frisbee players, one of the most common type of injuries we see are with ankles. Whether you mildly roll over on it and play through it to spraining it badly enough requiring crutches and being on the sidelines for a while, full rehabilitation and recovery for return to 100% unencumbered play is the same.

What is an Ankle Sprain? 

An ankle sprain is when varying degrees of damage to the ligaments, capsule and soft tissue (including tendons) of the outside or inside of the ankle providing it stability occur. Milder cases include ligaments being over stretched to more severe cases involve complete ligament and capsule tears, tendon strains and cartilage damage to the inside of the joints and even avulsion fractures.

When to seek out Physiotherapy?

What to look for:

1.  If you are unable to walk, run, jump or balance normally

2.  If you have swelling or bruising

3.  If you have bone tenderness.

4.  If you have pain in the medial arch or the side of the ankle or foot

What can I do to prevent an Ankle Sprain?

1.  Strengthening the calf and surrounding ankle muscles and the intrinsic foot muscles.

2.  Strengthen your core and your hip muscles.

3.  Stretch calf muscles, hips and keep them flexible.

4.  Ensure you have optimal range of motion, coordination, and muscle balance in your ankles, legs, hips, pelvis and spine. – If you feel stiff or have doubts about your mobility or muscle coordination seek out a Physiotherapist that can perform a Functional Movement Screening Assessment (FMSA) for you.

5.  Work on your balance – do your single leg balancing exercises. Your ‘Proprioception’ is important for power and agility with sharp cuts and quick stop and go motions. 

6.  Use Tape or wear an ankle support (brace) when you play. This video, made by Travis Dodds of INSYNC PHYSIO may help in showing you how you can tape up your own ankle for playing.:

How Do I Excel Again?

Whether you sustained a mild sprain or just on the cusp of fully returning from a more serious ankle injury, one thing remains the same. You need to develop the mobility, strength, power and agility to get your game back! This includes a strong core with increased mobility in your hips, knees and ankles.

Below are some videos made by INSYNC PHYSIO that can help you develop strength for core stability and power for your lower quadrant. Any exercises that you do should be pain free and never result in decreased range of motion or increased swelling. Dysfunctional movement patterns themselves can cause more significant problems, so playing through pain is generally a bad idea.

Whether your injury is mild or a more serious one, if you somehow just don’t feel right during your recovery process it is wise to seek out a health care professional that can properly diagnose the problem and help you treat the root cause of the injury.

Every injury is different, and with them can come unique aspects to the process of recovery and its rehabilitation so that you can resume full function and return to the way you really want to play again.

Wil Seto is a Sport Physiotherapist and has worked with the Australian National Ultimate Frisbee Teams since 2008 helping them win bronze and silver medals in World Championships and World Games events. Currently he will be travelling to World Championships in Italy this summer to help the Australian Men’s Masters Team.
INSYNC PHYSIOTHERAPY provides services in Sports Injuries, Spinal injuries, Post surgical rehabilitation, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS. We use an integrated patient–centred health care approach. Our commitment is to give you the highest level of professional care & service while utilizing latest advances in physiotherapy & health care to treat the underlying cause(s) of your aches and pains & helping you connect with how you really want to move again.