Sprained Ankles

With more than 240 million professional players registered worldwide, football is the most popular sport in the world. Most football injuries are sustained on the pitch through trauma, either from a bad tackle, falling or landing awkwardly or changing direction too sharply. Footballers mainly suffer injuries in the groin, hips, leg muscles, knees and ankles.

What Causes a Sprained Ankle?

A sprain occurs when the ligaments around the ankle joint are stretched, twisted or torn. Ligaments connect bones and cartilage around a joint, keeping the bone stable. Sprains usually happen when a player's whole body weight is suddenly pressed on the outer ligament of the ankle. In minor sprains, the ligament may just be stretched, but more serious sprains can result in the ligament being torn. If you have a sprained ankle, you will suffer pain, swelling and bruising. It is most likely to occur when players are slowing down or accelerating suddenly, changing direction unexpectedly, or if they suffer a blow to the joint during a tackle or land awkwardly. It is the most common injury in football because the game requires very sudden changes in pace and direction, and players often suffer bad collisions with opponents.

Prevention of Sprained Ankles

Staying fit and flexible and ensuring you warm up properly will increase the range of movement in the ankle joint. Ensuring you use the right technique when running so that your weight is distributed properly will also lessen the chances of sustaining a sprained ankle. In the short term, taping or strapping up your ankles during matches will help to protect them, but doing more exercises that strengthen and condition the muscles around the ankle joint is the best way to prevent sprains in the long term.

Treatment for Sprained Ankles

Surgery is not required for a sprain because there is no damage to the bone. Using the RICE method of rest, ice, compression and elevation will reduce pain and swelling. In the first 72 hours after sustaining a sprained ankle you should avoid putting weight on your ankle, heat (hot baths, heat packs etc), alcohol, because it increases bleeding and swelling and is detrimental to the healing process, and massaging the ankle, as this may also increase bleeding and swelling.

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