Ankle sprains are among the most common cricket-related injuries, and happen during bowling, batting and fielding alike. So here’s a brief look at the causes, treatment and prevention of sprained ankles.
What causes sprained ankles in cricket?
A sprained ankle is caused by a sudden forceful twisting motion which stretches the ligaments on the outside of the ankle beyond their limit. This type of ankle injury usually results from the ankle being twisted inwards, following a sudden change of direction (such as running between the wickets, turning to chase after a ball), or on an uneven surface (such as accidentally standing on a cricket ball). The ankle may also twist if the foot doesn’t land properly during the bowling action.
The typical signs of a sprained ankle are fairly obvious and tend to include pain, swelling and stiffness in the joint. In the following hours bruising may also develop in the area. A sprain will usually restrict movement of the ankle to a greater or lesser degree depending on the severity, and more serious sprains may leave the ankle unable to bear weight. If the pain is very severe and accompanied by excessive swelling and bruising, it may indicate a more serious injury such as a broken bone or torn ligaments – in this instance, seek medical attention immediately.
How do you treat a sprained ankle?
The immediate treatment for sprained ankle is the RICE protocol. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, and the protocol is described in detail in this article on hamstring injuries. Resting and elevating the injured ankle, and cooling and compressing the area, will help to reduce the pain and swelling and to prevent further damage to the already injured tissues. Anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers may also be prescribed to control pain and further decrease swelling. In severe cases, for instance if the ligament is torn, surgery may be necessary.
It is always a good idea to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis of any ankle sprain to ensure that the correct treatment is given.
Click here for instructions on how to wrap a sprained ankle.
How do you prevent a sprained ankle?
Appropriate and supportive footwear is the first line of defence against ankle injury. In addition, sportspeople with a history of ankle injuries will often wear a brace or strapping for extra ankle protection. (We will demonstrate various ankle taping techniques in upcoming articles.)
Before training or a match it’s essential to warm up the ankles with mobility exercises to minimise the risk of injury. A comprehensive warm-up programme which includes stretching will increase blood flow to the supporting muscles around the ankles, help to increase flexibility in the joints and improve awareness of the body’s position and movement.