• Dr. Clint Woo, DPT, PT

Rolled Ankles? Proprioception time!

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

A rolled ankle can be brutal! It will take you out of the game for days, weeks, months, and even years depending on the damage and how good your physical therapy (PT) went. The ankle due to its natural anatomical design, tends to turn soles inwards (inversion). While the ankle ligaments and tendons around the region help resist too much inversion, if the proprioception is not up to par, then the chances of rolling your ankles spike drastically. We'll talk about what happens when you roll an ankle, why you might be rolling your ankles, and how to recover and prevent future injuries (and what the heck proprioception is).

So what happens when you roll an ankle (for inversion specifically)? To put it VERY simply, the inside of the ankle gets compressed and the ligaments and tendons on the outside of the ankle are stretched (or even torn)! When ligaments are stretched, they are often stretched beyond their normal length. The problem is, ligaments do not get their normal length back because they are "non-elastic" compared to muscles/tendons which are more elastic (as in they have more "bounce"). This means once you stretch out the ligaments that are supposed to stop that rolling motion, those same ligaments are now unable to do their job!

Is there any hope for your recovery then? Yes there is! With a PT, we can work on your ankle stability, namely, ankle proprioception. This is the sense of knowing where a joint is in space without relying on vision to confirm it. A surgeon once explained to me that this is what causes his professional athletes to injure themselves upon landing and said something to the effect of "they don't know the position their leg is in when airborne so they land in a position that there is no wonder they got hurt". To work on proprioception, the therapist (after assessing you first! Don't endanger your ankle by just googling random activities online) can have you perform activities that involve messing with your footing, reacting to various cues, and moving in a precarious manner that simulates scenarios you may encounter in your activity.

Ankle proprioception is something I had to work on as I rolled my ankle in basketball and volleyball. After working on it, I haven't rolled my ankles since! Contact us to get start to prevent injury or to build you back up again!

As a disclaimer, this blog post isn’t intended as professional clinical advice. We at Woo Physical Therapy and Wellness are proud to serve the Anne Arundel, Howard, and Prince George's counties in-home and online anywhere in the U.S.A.!!

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