Have you ever encountered a sprained ankle? If you are an active person who enjoys playing sport, he chances are you have at least once. How did it feel afterwards? Did you feel as if you lost trust in your leg? Did it sometimes feel as if it was about to give way under your weight even after the ankle stopped hurting? You might have even perhaps found that spraining the same ankle again and again was consistently easier as life goes on. This is actually not all that uncommon, and there is a special type of ankle sprain treatment that has been known to help. It is called proprioception training.
Why Do Ankle Sprains Keep Coming Back?
Every time we sprain an ankle, we actually damage the joint’s ability to protect itself. This self-protection system is known by another name, proprioception. This is a fancy medical term that is a way of naming the manner in which your body automatically knows where your joints, arms, legs and fingers are located without having to actually look at them.
The brain has a unique ability to automatically sense the exact position of your ankles at all times. Tiny nerve receptors in your ankles (called proprioceptors) continuously send information to your brain about what position the ankle is in. As a result, this feedback process begins to coordinate the many muscles surrounding the ankle joint to ensure that everything is snug, secure and moves in a safe way. These proprioceptors often get damaged during an injury and likely to “go to sleep” and stop doing their job. Joints without firm muscular support are always at a high risk for potential injury. This includes all joints, not just ankles.
After we sprain an ankle, the body will aim to heal the soft tissue damage such as muscles and ligaments. However, the brain’s ability to control these muscles may take a lot longer and sometimes without a specific training programme, may never fully recover. Until this control is regained or re-trained, we continue to sprain our ankles.
Proprioception Training “Teaches” The Brain And “Wakes Up” The Proprioceptors
The good news is that we can actually re-train these special nerve receptors in your ankle to start working again. This training aims to re-activate the connection between the ankle and the brain so they can start “talking” to each other. This form of ankle sprain treatment is known as proprioception training. The training consists of a series of simple to more complex exercises and specifically controlled movements that usually involve balancing the body in some shape of form.
How Proprioception Exercises As Part Of Your Ankle Sprain Treatment Can Help You Make Ankle Sprains A Thing Of The Past
Even though these types of exercises are performed routinely during the ankle rehabilitation process, these same exercises can easily be practiced at home as well, helping to “wake up” the proprioceptors and strengthen the ankle muscles to prevent future injury. Some of them are very, very simple, while others are more challenging. Standing on one leg for increasingly longer periods of time is a relatively easy one. Then, performing this exercise with your eyes closed is one of the next challenges.
You can then try standing on a pillow or wobble board next. In the gym you may include squats on wobble board in your weekly workout routine once your confidence increases to that level. For those of you who consistently keep getting ankle sprains very easily, ankle sprain treatment through proprioception training supervised by a skilled physiotherapist can lead to long-lasting relief.
Remember to consult with your physiotherapist before commencing any of these exercises.