A sprained ankle occurs when a person goes over on the ankle-joint further than the tissues can allow. The force required to sprain an ankle varies with each individual. If two people went over on their ankles one of them may just rub it better and carry on forgetting about it very quickly. The other person may be hobbling around on a stick for a few days with a bad sprain and a lot of swelling. The first person had loose connective tissue which was elastic and forgiving of a minor pull. The second person’s connective tissue was much tighter and less forgiving so that it tore easily even with a slight trauma. The tighter the connective tissue becomes the less stretchy and forgiving it is. A person with tight tissue is much more likely to succumb to injury. When soft tissue is damaged connective tissue fibres are torn. Fluid leaks from the torn fibres and causes localised swelling. This works like glue when squeezed from a tube. The glue tries to repair the damage and in its enthusiasm sticks everything to everything else. The individual fibres, which are normally free to glide slightly one on the other, become stuck together and are irritated by any movement of the ankle. It is important that the ends of the torn fibres stick together but not that they stick along their whole length.
Sprains and strains are not helped by “working through them” or by exercising and ‘keeping it moving’. Resting and keeping the leg up as much as possible will allow the body to do its own repair job much quicker than trying to carry on as though nothing had happened. Treatment with Connective Tissue Manipulation helps to decrease pain, reduce the swelling, increase range of movement and speed up the healing process.