Ahh! Ankle Injuries Explained…

By Cody Frank

Oh the ankle. The ankle is a body part on a dancer that is easily injured whether you roll it during a class/rehearsal, fall, or just step wrong when walking. Personally, I have hurt both of my ankles numerous times. I didn’t take the necessary precautions to prevent more ankle injuries, because I would power through the injury. This was not wise, because I ended up with more severe injuries later in life. It catches up to you, you have one body for your lifetime. Your grandparents and teachers aren’t joking when they say take care of your body.

You rolled your ankle and you heard a pop sound whether landing a jump improperly or landing on an object. Walking or training on an uneven surface can also be the cause of a sprained ankle. Pain, swelling, bruising, restricted range of motion, and difficulty walking are more signs that support the case that you sprained your ankle. A lateral (outside of ankle/inversion) ankle sprain is the most common injury for dancers. {An inversion injury (where the ankle is twisted inwards) or an eversion injury (where the ankle is twisted outwards)}. Sprains involve tearing of the ligaments with varying degrees:

1st degree – a few ligament fibers are damaged

2nd degree – extensive damage to the ligament with swelling

3rd degree – complete tearing of the ligament with swelling and possible joint dislocation.

Generally the reasons a dancer sprains their ankle is Β (i.e. of thoughts in your head)

1. has a slight loss of balance (Shoot, I wasn’t using my core).

2. lapse in concentration (Who is that new guy in class…heeyy dance crush…).

3. working close to the limits of strength (I had 2 hours of sleep, 4 dance classes, rehearsal, gym, and forgot to eat).Β 

To avoid inflammation the dancer should immediately apply the R.I.C.E. treatment.

R = Rest. Stay off the foot/affected area until it can be evaluated. Further movement could create severe damage.

I = Ice. Apply ice or cold packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes each hour to help minimize the swelling. (Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Have a towel or something between your skin and the ice).

C = Compression. To reduce swelling, wrap a tensor bandage (aka ACE bandage) around the ankle.

E = Elevation. Elevate above the heart and support the ankle while resting to prevent blood from pooling and increasing swelling.

A debatable topic among health professionals is whether R.I.C.E. should be changed to M.I.C.E. where the M stands for Motion.Β The idea is to get motion as quickly as possible after injury before the swelling occurs. In a slow pain-free manner, once you get this minimum motion (flexing & pointing the ankle, air writing the alphabet with your ankle), continue it. It will increase blood and circulation which will decrease recovery time. Rest the ankle first and then after a day or several hours of rest depending on the severity of your injury try to slightly move it. If it’s too painful, stop and wait for the doctor’s diagnosis. As always if pain is too great when resting you can take a pain reliever (Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve), however understand those are pain relievers and not a cure for pain or your injury.

The severity of a sprain will determine the amount of protection and immobilization required. To rule out any fractures, the ankle should be examined by a physician. Additionally, treatment with a physical therapist or a athletic trainer is crucial to develop strength and balance before resuming dance activities. This will reduce the potential for a reoccurring sprain. Unfortunately, ligaments are not like rubber bands and do not spring back to their original size. Ligaments stay damaged (elongated/loose) after an injury which is why strength and balance training are imperative to recovery.Luckily, if you practice self-care and allow a restful recovery period, you will be back to your fly dancing self in no time.

Thank you to Harkness, APMA, Physioroom, Marshfield Clinic, and many doctors for the above information.

Don’t forget to check out Fly Gyal’s new online shop where you can buy all kinds of dance goodies πŸ˜‰
Cover photo via AGBlogger
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