Sprained ankle - Gymnastics Injuries

A sprained ankle is the most common injury in gymnastics.

Causes of a sprained ankle

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint are stretched beyond their limits; usually this occurs when an athlete changes direction quickly, twists or falls awkwardly.

Types of sprain

In most cases, sprains are minor; however, many gymnasts suffer from more serious sprains as a result of the speed of movement and heavy impact on landing. Minor sprains damage the ligaments slightly, while serious sprains can lead to the ligament being partially or completely torn.

Symptoms of a sprained ankle

Common symptoms include localised pain, which may become heightened when the foot is flexed, swelling and a restricted range of movement around the joint. Serious sprains may prevent athletes being able to bear weight on the affected ankle.

Treatment for a sprained ankle

Initially all sprains will usually be treated with rest, ice and elevation; this will help to improve circulation to the affected area and reduce swelling. Following this, minor sprains will be treated with anti-inflammatory medication and wearing a support may be recommended; this will help to protect the ankle from further injury. Serious sprains will take a long time to heal; during the recovery process an athlete may use crutches to prevent the ankle from bearing weight. In some cases, surgery may be required. The affected ankle should be allowed plenty of time to rest before a gymnast resumes training. Physiotherapy will help to gradually increase strength and movement around the joint.

Preventing a sprained ankle

Many gymnasts wear ankle supports to provide additional protection; this is common in events such as the floor and vault where the gymnast lands with force. Completing a thorough warm and cool down will help to aid preparation and recovery and will subsequently reduce the risk of injury.

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