This guest post is written by Peak Performance Intern Matt Fox. Matt is a graduating senior majoring in Kinesiology at MSU.

Among the sporting world, injuries are a common occurrence; the occurrence of ankle sprains ranks amongst the highest injury sustained by athletes, with lateral ankle sprains leading the way. The issue with an ankle sprain is that it is an injury with a high rate of re-injury. Actually, up to 80% of individuals who initially sprain their ankle will sprain it again. In addition, in some cases of an initial ankle sprain, in 70% of individuals symptoms of the sprain may persist for up to 6-months.

Most diagnosed ankle sprains are treated by home care techniques, including resting, elevating the foot, applying ice, and wrapping the ankle to reduce the swelling. All treatments can be achieved within the injured individual’s home. However, other treatments have shed a new light on overall ankle sprain recovery and ankle sprain recovery time. One of these treatments is manual therapy, where the ankle and surrounding joints are moved by the physical therapist to help restore normal joint movement.

The Journal Of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy performed a study observing the outcomes of a home exercise program with a treatment program using manual physical therapy techniques. 74 patients were part of the study. Half received a home therapy program, and the other half received manual therapy and a supervised exercise program. The patients who received the manual therapy treatment experienced a much different outcome than the group who received a home exercise program. 70% of the manual therapy group experienced a reduction in pain at 4 weeks and 92% of these patients experienced a 92% reduction at the 6-month post-injury mark. In comparison, the home exercise program patients only experienced a 39% reduction in pain at the 4-week post-injury mark and an 80% reduction in pain at 6 months. There was an additional advantage for the manual therapy group in performing daily activities. This group improved their ability to do these activities from 66% to 80% from the initial evaluation to the 4-week stage. At the 6-month plateau this group’s ability to perform daily activities was at 97%. The home exercise intervention group’s ability to perform daily activities increased from 73% at the 4-week, and 88% at the 6-month mark. The difference in pain relief and injury recovery rate between the two interventions is believed to be due to the combination of the manual therapy and the supervised exercise program providing better pain relief and improved function.

View the full journal article here: