The International Stunt Academy's guide to High Ankle Sprain Injuries. Stunt people are in the ultra-high risk category for Ankle injury. It's not uncommon to see sprains and over-rotation issues, but these very easily lead to ligament and tendon damage that can be long term. Also, not all sprains are the same. There are different types and in this article we focus on the "High Ankle Sprain". Beware taking general sprain advice, especially if you have had repeated sprains on the same ankle, as often this is a signal you can muscle imbalance that's leaving you wide open to repeated injuries
While a doctor may casually diagnose a 'sprained ankle', there are in fact different types of sprain and different grades of severity. Each has a different treatment path.
The categories of ankle sprains (grades 1, 2, and 3) are based on the severity of the injury, which ligaments are affected and the level of tearing.
But the different types of ankle sprains are based on how the injury occurred and which ligaments are more involved. The most common types of ankle sprains are:
Let's explore the High Ankle Sprain, and why its likely to become a repetitive injury.
Repetitive high ankle sprains can be challenging to treat and require a comprehensive approach that includes both strengthening and flexibility exercises to help stabilize the ankle joint and prevent further injury. Here are some physio activities and exercises that may be helpful:
But which muscles in particular are more likely to be related to the cause of a high ankle sprain?
High ankle sprains typically occur when there is a sudden twisting or rotating of the ankle, which can cause injury to the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg. While there is no one muscle group that is solely responsible for causing high ankle sprains, there are certain muscles that may play a role in increasing the risk of injury.
The muscles that are most commonly associated with high ankle sprains include:
Testing for imbalance
An easy test to sense out which muscle groups are out of balance is the single-leg balance test. This test can help identify any weaknesses or imbalances in the ankle and foot muscles, including the Tibialis anterior, Peroneals, and Gastrocnemius/Soleus.
Here are the steps to perform the single-leg balance test:
While performing the test, pay attention to any wobbling or shaking in your ankle and foot, as well as any difficulty maintaining your balance. If you notice that you have more difficulty balancing on one foot than the other, this may indicate a weakness or imbalance in the ankle and foot muscles on that side.
It's important to note that the single-leg balance test is not a definitive diagnosis, and a healthcare professional or physiotherapist can provide a more detailed assessment and treatment plan. However, it can be a useful tool for identifying any imbalances and weaknesses in the ankle and foot muscles.
How can people tackle tightness in Gastrocnemius and Soleus? (short / tight calves)
Tightness in the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles can contribute to ankle instability and increase the risk of injury. Here are some ways that you can tackle tightness in these muscles:
Which exercises can increase strength of the Peroneals, if they are weaker and the sprain comes from muscle imbalance caused by this?
If the peroneal muscles are weaker and contributing to muscle imbalances that increase the risk of ankle sprains, it's important to include exercises that specifically target these muscles in your rehabilitation program.
Here are some exercises that can help increase strength of the peroneals:
Exploring the cause of muscle imbalance (over or under development of specific muscles and their functions)
The Tibialis anterior is a muscle located on the front of the lower leg and is responsible for dorsiflexion (lifting the foot up) and inversion (turning the foot inward). While any activity that involves these movements can help develop the Tibialis anterior, there are certain sports or activities that may lead to an under or over development of this muscle:
The Peroneals are a group of muscles located on the outside of the lower leg and are responsible for eversion (turning the foot outward) and plantarflexion (pointing the foot down). While any activity that involves these movements can help develop the Peroneals, there are certain sports or activities that may lead to an under or over development of these muscles:
Gastrocnemius and Soleus Imbalances
The Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles are the muscles of the calf and are responsible for plantarflexion (pointing the foot down). While any activity that involves this movement can help develop the Gastrocnemius and Soleus, there are certain sports or activities that may lead to an under or over development of these muscles:
Note: this is not medical advice and as athletes and performers you should always seek proper help and diagnosis from a licensed medical professional with a specialism in your specific type of injury, not just the advice of a general practitioner. It's important to work with a qualified physiotherapist to create an individualized plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. They can also help monitor your progress and adjust your program as needed.
This blog os co-authored by The ISA Team