What is Footballer’s Ankle?
Footballer’s ankle is a condition where the ligaments of the ankle or tendons of the ankle get pinched or compressed between the talus and the tibia. This causes pain, swelling, and inflammation. The cause can be an injury where the ankle has been overstretched or overflexed.
Symptoms of Footballer’s Ankle
- Pain and tenderness upon pressure over the front of the ankle joint.
- Pain upon bending the foot up or down.
- Kicking a ball produces pain across the front of the ankle joint.
- A bony growth at the front of the ankle.
Causes of Footballer’s Ankle
Anterior impingement is commonly caused by a bone spur on talus, also known as ankle bone or the tibia, also known as shinbone. Repetitive kicking causes the ankle bone to hit the base of the shinbone. This causes formation of a bone spur, which puts pressure on the soft tissue at the anterior side of the ankle causing swelling and inflammation. This condition commonly occurs in those athletes who repeatedly dorsiflex their ankle such as footballers, thus being called “footballer’s ankle.”
Treatment of Footballer’s Ankle
- X-ray of the ankle confirms the diagnosis.
- Rest should be taken.
- Patient should seek consultation of a sport injury professional.
- Ankle support may be worn for immobilization.
- Sports massage techniques can be done by a professional.
- Steroid injection can be given for inflammation.
- If the condition is severe and the bone spur is large in size, then surgery is required to remove it.
- After complete healing, the patient should start rehab program comprising of stretching and strengthening exercises to regain mobility, flexibility and range of motion of the ankle.
Exercises for Footballer’s Ankle
Below mentioned are some of the routine exercises recommended for Footballer’s Ankle. To begin with post the injury, the ankle has to be rehabilitated first by starting off with stretching and strengthening exercises. Once the ankle becomes relatively stable then range of motion exercises are started. Before starting any exercise it is always advisable to consult with a sports physician or a physical therapist who can formulate a detailed exercise regimen for you. Once the athlete regains strength and range of motion then exercises can be further advanced and early return to sports can be facilitated.
Range of motion exercises for ankle: Some exercises for improving range of motion following footballer’s ankle are:
Ankle Plantar Flexion Exercise to Help Recover From Footballer’s Ankle Injury: To do this exercise, sit on the floor with injured leg crossed over the opposite knee. Use the opposite hand to pull the top of the foot and toes towards the body. This should give a feeling of a gentle stretch on the top of the foot and ankle. Maintain this position for about half-a-minute and repeat this exercise about five times and about 10 times a day.
Ankle Eversion Exercise to Help Recover From Footballer’s Ankle Injury: To do this exercise sit on the floor with the injured ankle crossed over the opposite knee. Grip the foot with the opposite hand, placing the thumb on the top of the foot and fingers across the bottom of the foot. Now, gently push the foot downwards with little rotation such that the toes rise up slightly. This should make you feel a gentle stretch on the inside of the ankle. Maintain this position for about half-a-minute. Repeat this exercise about five times and do it about 10 times a day.
Ankle Inversion Exercise for Early Recovery From Footballer’s Ankle Injury: To do this exercise, sit on the floor with the injured ankle crossed over the opposite knee. Grip the foot with the opposite hand placing the thumb on the bottom of the foot and fingers across the top of the foot. Gently pull the foot such that the toe comes towards the body and the thumb pushes the inside of the ball of foot away from the body. This should give a gentle stretch on the outside of the ankle. Maintain this position for about half-a-minute and do this about 10 times a day.
Once you are through with range of motion exercises then you may advance to strengthening exercises. Below mentioned are some of the strengthening exercises for strengthening the ankle. Again, it is recommended that these exercises should be done under the supervision of a physical therapist or a sports physician. Initially, some pain may be felt when doing the exercises, but once you get used to it, the pain will resolve.
Exercise for Footballer’s Ankle- Dorsiflexor Strengthening: To do this exercise, you need to have a tube, which will act as resistance and this should be fixed to a stationary object such as a table or a pole. Loop the other end of the tube around the injured leg. Now, sit on the floor facing the object. There should be slight tension felt in the tube when the foot is relaxed.
Now gently pull the foot backwards towards the body using the ankle and toes. Maintain this position for about half a minute and then return to normal position. Repeat this exercise about five times and do it about 10 times a day.
Ankle Eversion Strengthening Exercise: To do this exercise, take one end of the resistance tube while the other end is fixed to a stationary object. Take the other end of the tube and place it around the injured foot. Place your fists between the knees. Now draw the band across the opposite foot and slowly pull the little toe outwards and upwards. Make sure that there is gentle resistance offered by the rubber tubing. Maintain this position for about half-a-minute and do this exercise about 10 times a day repeating it five times with each try.
Ankle Inversion Strengthening Exercise: To do this exercise, loop one of the tube over the injured foot and the other end attached to a fixed object. Now gently pull the big toe upwards and inwards ensuring that the rubber tube resists the entire motion. Maintain this position for about half-a-minute and maintaining the resistance by the tube come back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise about five times and do it about 10 times a day.
Once you are through with range of motion and strengthening exercises, then the physical therapist will advance you to balance exercises so as to facilitate return to the sports at the earliest possible time. Below mentioned are some of the exercises for improving balance.
Inversion/Eversion Balance Exercises: Make a balance board of about 1.5 feet long and 1.5 inch wide. Use a stick or a rod which is placed underneath the board across it. Now, stand on a smooth surface and step on the board with the feet about a hip width apart at an equal distance from each side of the rod or the stick. Now, use your feet to balance the board and at the same time tipping it from side to side making sure that the board does not touch the ground. You can rest for a few moments before starting to balance the board again. Repeat this exercise about five times and do it about four times a day.
Watch Video of Physical Therapy & Rehab for Anterior Ankle Impingement
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