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Putting your best foot forward Is sometimes harder than you think.

Roll your ankles regularly?

This condition is called ankle instability this happens from the ligaments on the outside of the ankle becoming damaged and loose. Ligaments are strong bands of connective tissue that join bone to bone, this enables the foot to stay stable during movement.

Over time we become prone to ankle instability from micro trauma. This occurs if you have high arches, uneven weight distribution, and heel pain creating stress on the lateral ligaments which in turns micro-tears appear.

If you have rolled or sprained your ankle many times then you may have altered your bodies proprioceptors. Proprioceptors are sensors located in the body and they give feedback to the brain on the position of muscle length or joint angle and muscle tension this provides the brain with information so it knows where it is in space. When you damage your ankle, the proprioceptors are altered, sometimes the ankle may feel unstable or gives you a sense of vulnerability. When you start to roll there is no message being sent to the brain to alter your position.

The most common sprain is to the lateral ankle, this has stretched or damaged the ligaments on the outside of ankle. When stepping down to the gutter with your toes pointed inwards, when you land on someone’s foot after jumping in sport.

The next on is a high sprain and this affects the ligament that binds the two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula), this typically takes time to heal. This injury is usually seen in athletes and is from running sideways or stopping suddenly (netball) or turning in motion (soccer)

Who is at risk?

People with high arches that run or play sport and people with tight Achilles tendons are at higher risk of damaging their ankle ligaments.

Stability Challenge

Can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed? Can you hold this for more than ten seconds?

If this is too easy than try the same exercise but stand on a rolled up towel, this will challenge your balance.

If you fail this you can start by challenging your balance, my trainer has me on a bosu ball (is half a swiss ball with a flat hard bottom), I started by standing on the bosu with both legs then challenged this by simple step ups. The next step was to balance on one leg on the ball. Next step will be eyes closed…. That should be fun to watch.

What can you do?

Ligaments can be healed, if the issue is stability, and it is minor you can start by exercises that restrengthen the ligaments and range of motion movements along with physical therapy. Acupuncture and myotherapy is excellent physical therapy for ankles. At home you can walk on uneven surfaces, this will retrain the stability muscles to give immediate feedback.

Shoes are also very important you will need to look for shoes that have a strong lateral edges to help compress and support your ankles.

However if you have major damage, you may need to have surgery to correct the problem.

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