SOCCER AND YOUR BODY
'Cleaning Up' Ankle Sprains
By Roy Gillespie B.Sc. P.T., M.C.P.A., C.A.F.C.I - Pinnacle Sports Physiotherapy, Kelowna, BC
Recently in Kelowna we hosted the U20 Women’s National Soccer team. Many of the players were from NCAA Division 1 schools. What had surprised us was the number of chronic injuries which could have been prevented with the basic “clean up” work. What likely had occurred in most cases was very similar to the situation that I personally deal with our local football team (Okanagan Sun)… get the players back on the field as quickly as safely possible, and deal with the longer term rehabilitation side when the season is done. However, many players leave immediately after the playing season before the “loose ends” can really be tied up well.
With regards to the soccer community we tend to see one thing over and over again. This is the Achilles tendon pain (tendonitis, tendonosis) which is occurring on the same side as a previous ankle sprain. The reason for this is quite simple. When the sprain occurs the ankle will swell, become immobilized for a short period of time, and will scar up. As a result of the healing process the last ranges of dorsiflexion (i.e. when you keep your foot on the ground and bend your knee forward) is often lost. This lack of terminal dorsiflexion is very important for how the Achilles tendon works. If this range is lost, tendon issues will inevitably develop.
If you have sprained your ankle in the past don’t forget to stretch the ankle into this end range. A quick way to check the flexibility is to compare the mobility of both ankles with the “knee over foot wall test”
(see picture; make sure the knee is over the second toe). This test will allow the athlete to see how far away the foot is from the wall, and is a test for the end range dorsiflexion flexibility. In addition to strengthening, power, and balance exercises this is must in the rehabilitation of the sprain.