Ankle sprains are a very common injury that typically occurs to the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Ankle sprains are common in people that play sports that require a quick change in direction such as soccer, basketball or football. Usually the mechanism of the injury is with a planted foot with a sudden movement change that leads to a rolling over on the ankle (called an inversion sprain).
Often acute ankle sprains resolve over 8-12 weeks, but when left untreated, it can lead to chronic instability of the ankle. When this happens, there is a change in the position of the fibula (one of the bones in the front of your shin) due to the increased swelling in the joint after the injury. Due to this positional fault of the ankle the swelling persists which can lead to chronic impingement in the front of the ankle.
One way I like to treat chronic ankle instabilities leading to pain in the front of the ankle is with a Mulligan technique. This technique is called a mobilization with movement (MWM), which aims to restore the normal biomechanics of the ankle. While Mulligans can be used for acute ankle sprains, I have found it to be very effective with chronic ankle issues as well.
The therapist uses the patient’s own active physiological movement and applies pressure to the ankle using a belt to allow the movement to occur in its pain-free range. It changes the input of pain to the central nervous system and takes an otherwise painful movement and makes it pain-free.
Repeating the mulligan technique several times allows the body to improve the faulty position of the ankle. At this point, the goal is to use rehab exercises, such as advanced balance and functional strength exercises to maintain the new pain-free movement and to continue working on function.
Mulligans for Other Conditions
Mulligans can be a very useful tool for many conditions. Ankle sprains and chronic instability are examples of these conditions. I have also found it helpful to treat low back pain, shoulder pain and tennis elbow, to name a few.
Ankle Sprain Causing You Pain?
Have an ankle sprain causing you pain? Curious if Mulligans can help? Give us a call!