You feel the ankle twist, you let out a cry and you know you’ve got a sprain. It sounds like a minor thing, but the injury can have a serious affect on your season unless it’s treated correctly and the ankle retrained. Basketball is a game of rapid changes of direction, as well as continual jumping and landing. Unfortunately, these activities increase the chances of the basketball players suffering an ankle sprain.
If the worst happens, every player should know exactly what they should do to speed their recovery and enable their return to the court as quickly as possible. The most common ankle sprain is the inversion sprain. This is often caused by one player landing on another’s foot, with the first player’s foot rolling on to its outer edge.
This tears the ankle’s lateral (outside) ligaments, the strong fibrous bands that attach the foot to the lower leg.
Initial immediate management of the sprained ankle is extremely important and requires the RICE regime.
RICE is vital in limiting the amount of pain, bleeding and swelling in and around the ankle joint. This swelling is rather like a slow-setting glue in that, over time, it “gums up” the joint, restricting the range of motion and impeding the basketball player’s rehabilitation.
The greater the swelling, the longer the absence from the basketball court. Initial on-court management should be to determine the extent of the injury. Whenever possible, the injured player should cease playing immediately and REST.
Continued active movement of the ankle will only result in increased bleeding and swelling.
An ICE pack should be quickly applied to the sore area. Ice should initially be applied hourly, for 15 minutes, over the first four hours.
The application of ice should continue four-hourly over the next 24-48 hours.
COMPRESSION should be applied to the limb in the form of bandaging.
Initially, bandage the ankle over the ice applications with the limb elevated. Following the application of ice, the limb should be bandaged to support and compress the ankle joint. This assists in minimizing swelling and bleeding.
ELEVATION of the ankle is important and should be above the level of the pelvis. This reduces blood flow to the ankle and encourages drainage. Medical advice should be sought to assess the severity of the injury to the ligaments and to eliminate the presence of a fracture.
This is vital.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
A comprehensive rehabilitation pro- DOCTORS, TRAINERS AND CONDITIONING COACHES gram is required for basketball, so that the player returns to the court with full agility and avoids further sprains. Physiotherapy is an important part of that rehabilitation procedure. The physiotherapist will assess the damage, treating the ligaments and joints, in order to regain ankle motion, and reduce pain and swelling. This may involve deep ligament massage, mobilization, ankle stretches, strengthening exercises, balance reeducation, the use of electro-therapeutic techniques such as ultrasound, and strapping or bracing to protect the damaged joint.
Returning to sport occurs when the player is able to jump run forwards, backwards, sideways, in a figure eight and has the ability to change direction quickly with no pain.
Once back playing basketball, ankle bracing or strapping may be required initially or permanently as the balance receptors (propriceptors) in the ankle are significantly impaired following an ankle injury.
Once an ankle sprain has occurred, that ankle is four times more likely to re – sprain. Therefore, supporting the ankle with bracing or strapping is an ideal way to assist a speedy return to the basketball court and, most importantly, avoid further disruption to your season.
To re-educate the ankle receptors, stand on the injured foot, gain your balance and shut your eyes, maintaining your balance for as long as possible. Once able to do this, progress to small hops, jumping and landing with your eyes shut. Courtesy of FIBA.com
Madeline Hernon is physiotherapist for the New Zealand national women’s team – the Tall Ferns – and also assisted the Alinghi syndicate from Switzerland that captured the America’s Cup yachting trophy this year.