Sports Injuries

02 March 2011

Foot and ankle injuries

There are numerous injuries that can be sustained by the foot and ankle. Sprains and strains commonly occur.

There are numerous injuries that can be sustained by the foot and ankle. Sprains and strains commonly occur.

A sprain occurs when the ligaments around a joint are overstretched or tear - most commonly the lateral/outside ankle ligaments. This is often due to a sudden wrench or twist, which causes the bones of a joint to separate unduly.

Minor sprains and strains can be treated at home, initially using the following measures:

Start treatment as soon as possible to reduce swelling and speed up recovery. The less swelling, the more blood can get to the injured part to start the repair process.

  • Rest – even if it is only a minor sprain and use crutches for up to a week to allow the damaged tissue to unload and start to knit.
  • Ice (using ice or a bag of frozen peas) for 10-15 minutes every hour for the first 24-48 hours. (Do not apply heat during the first two days, as this will only increase swelling.) Ice is shown to be more effective with compression. 
  • Compression can be applied by securing the ice with a cloth, or purchasing a product at your local chemist called Tubigrip/Orthogrip.
  • Elevate the ankle ABOVE your heart.

•             Arnica oil works well to reduce swelling.


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Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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