Ankle sprains: Pain free does not mean normal

Last modified: Monday, November 09, 2015

The American College of Sports Medicine says 25,000 people sprain their ankles every day in the United States. Some of those injuries recover over time on their own - or do they? A recent New York Times article sites studies that confirm what Mayo Clinic experts have known for a while. Ankle sprains are not simple injuries. Without proper training of muscles to support the joint after a sprain, ankles can easily be re-injured.

Mayo Clinic researchers did two studies related to this idea. Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine specialist Dr. Edward Laskowski says one study finds that after an ankle sprain, muscles don’t contract normally, leading to instability. The other study shows that people who participated in a training program after ankle sprain had improved stability. He says, “Pain free does not mean normal. Without training after an ankle sprain, you might not get the protection from future injury.”

If you sprain your ankle, Laskowski recommends a consultation with a Sports Medicine professional or physical therapist who can suggest exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint.

Laskowski says exercise the following types of exercises are key to recovery and prevention.

 Stand on the floor and balance on one leg

 As balance improves, stand on one leg while doing a task such as reading or bouncing a ball

 Stand on one leg on a foam pillow


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