(Originally posted February 9, 2012)

Congratulations to the NY Giants on their victory in the Super Bowl this past weekend. What a thrilling and historic game for both Giants and Patriots . As a result of Gronkowski’s injury in the AFC Championship Game, high ankle sprains have been a primary topic of conversation in the sports world for the past couple of weeks. So what exactly is an ankle sprain…and for those exercise enthusiasts among us who have unfortunately had a sprain before, how does one continue to maintain their fitness with such an injury?

A sprained ankle is a common injury. It is an injury to the ligaments (fibrous tissue that connect bone to bone) of the ankle joint. The ligaments prevent excess turning and twisting of the joint. In normal movement, the ligaments can stretch slightly and then retract back to their normal shape and size. A sprain results when the ligaments of the ankle have been stretched beyond their limits. In severe sprains, the ligaments may be partially or completely torn. Most ankle sprains are due to the foot turning inward, although eversion sprains can occur – when the foot is turned outward.Ankle sprains can occur at any time, to anyone easily. For instnce, landing wrong or having someone step on your foot inadvertently while you are mid-stride could cause such an injury. Although there are different grades of severity to this injury, the treatment is generally the same—RICE—Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

In terms of exercise this means that running and other impact activities aren’t a great idea! Even if you thought you could tolerate it, which you most likely don’t, you can make things much worse by doing such activities as running and jumping. I would recommend a non-impact cardio activity such as swimming instead. If it’s a low grade sprain you could try stationary biking in the saddle and see how that feels. You definitely want to curtail any activity that increases swelling and discomfort in the area.  If you can’t tolerate any weight on it, you can still work your tush and outer thigh by lying on your side and moving your leg away from the centerline of your body.  You can also do seated upper body exercises.  I also recommend stretching by getting to the point where you feel the stretch and just holding it there (no bouncing) and trying to relax into the stretch. Do not hold your breath. Hold for about 20-30 seconds. You could also use a foam roller. Let your body be your guide. Check with your physician or a physical therapist for more specific recommendations or guidelines. A good trainer should be able to help you maintain your fitness while working around this injury.

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