Why is it important to make a full recovery?
This is a common injury, it often happens in the silliest way and it commonly recurs (the same injury happening to the same ankle). The mechanism of injury is usually clear (the foot twists inward, causing elongation of the ligaments that hold the bones protecting the joint). It is usually the peroneal astragalus ligament which is affected (on the outside). This is a brief summary and explanation of what happens.
But what may not be so clear is the anatomical and physiological breakdown of what should have happened to avoid a sprain.Ligaments, the parts of the body supporting the joints, contain small “position sensors”, constantly informing our brain exactly where the joint is in space. It’s like having a small GPS at each joint of the body. It is an internal process of which we are not aware when the joint is moving in a normal range. This explains how we know where each segment of our body is at all times, even with our eyes closed.
Well, what happens when our joint “position sensors” detect that we are close to the limit of mobility that can be supported by that joint? … Information reaches our brain at high speed and in a fraction of a second it starts the mechanism intended to prevent injury from happening. That is, the brain sends an order to the appropriate muscle group to contract and return the joint to its safe zone.
All this happens very quickly and usually we do not notice what has happened. At other times, if the process is a little slow, we gasp: “Wow, I almost twisted my ankle.” And in the worst case, it does not work on time and… oops, the injury happens!!!
The good news is that this mechanism can be easily trained. For proper retraining, this should be done at the right time, just after suffering a sprain (depending on the degree of injury).
Injured ligaments lose some of their “sensors” or we could say that the cable relaying the information they collect is disconnected. As healing occurs and everything goes back normal, the sensors should be reprogrammed to restore their function in a controlled and progressive way.In the case of the ankle, restoring function is done with a good proprioceptive programme. This is balance training which forces the sensors, in a controlled manner, to collect and transmit data, and the brain to send orders. If the programme is successful you will have a healthy joint (better than before the injury), and avoid the feeling of losing your balance which leads to protective and abnormal movements (with an odd gait) which result in more damage around the ankle. You will be very pleased to resume activity again, fully recovered!!!