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Maintain your joints to avoid nasty sprains

YOU are walking on the footpath and suddenly you slip or hit an uneven surface and you go over on your ankle.

Within minutes, blood flows to the affected area and swelling begins.

It can happen that quickly. If you are lucky, it will be only a mild strain and recovery will take just a week or two.

When swelling occurs, it's your body's way of protecting the area. When you roll or twist your ankle, even with a mild strain, it can be really uncomfortable, and it may even prevent you from walking.

If the twist is more severe, it may be ligament rupture, bruising, swelling or even joint instability, which is really not very nice.

Ankle sprain happens when your foot is twisted and then inverted. You may be going straight, but your foot may be going in a different direction at the same time. The most common strain is ligament damage – when the foot rolls outwards, causing painful movement to the outer side of the ankle.

We all, at some stage, have had this problem. For the younger and the stronger, recovery is fast. But as we get older and less flexible, healing can take a lot longer.

This is why we should strengthen the whole foot, and even the simple movement of kicking a football gives you strength and rotation to all of the ligaments.

The rarer medial ligament strain, in which the foot goes the opposite way – inwards – affects the inner side of the ankle. It will certainly take a while to recover from this.

The ligament connects to the calf ankle and heel, so there is a lot going on with it. And with all strains, there are different grades. Grade one or two is a partial tear of the ligament, while grade three is a serious rupture of one or more ligaments.

And, yes, this will definitely take a while to heal. The biggest problem is getting time to rest and elevate your foot.

For many, this is not possible because they have work or family commitments and so have little time to rest.

But, unfortunately, if you don't do this the problem can drag on, possibly even for years.


It is essential to get good advice from a physiotherapist or even a podiatrist, who may recommend an MRI scan because an X-ray won't show up tendon or ligament damage.

When you get the advice, it is important to stick by it because your ankle problem will not improve otherwise.

And when you have recovered, strengthen your foot and calf area with a variety of movements. Again, simply kicking a ball from the outer side, inner side and the front will help make your joints more mobile.

> Pat Henry