Recovering from Ankle Sprain With Pilates

On the way to Pilates class two Sundays ago, I was deep in thought and mentally going through the series of exercises that I wanted to teach in class. It was a familiar route and I walked quickly. Lost in my thoughts, I stepped onto an uneven surface of the pavement and tripped. Immediately, I felt a shooting pain from my left ankle and I was momentarily immobilised. A dreaded realisation that I had sprained my ankle. What a great way to start my class! I hobbled to the studio but there was no time to think about the injury while I did my classes.

When I finally had time to rest, I was in acute pain. With each step on the injured ankle, I winced in pain. I had to act quickly to lessen the misery and developed a Pilates programme to rehabilitate my ankle.

With ankle injuries, the main focus is to first stabilise the ankle as the injured area heals before progressing to strengthening the muscles around the ankle and increasing mobility of the injured ankle and leg.

My programme included Pilates fundamentals of toe lifts, calf raises, and leg and footwork exercises on the reformer. The body naturally protects the injured leg by placing less weight on that leg which results in the person walking with a limp. It is, therefore, important to bring our focus back to the Pilates principle of foot centres and transferring our weight evenly on the foot centres of both legs. There is also added stress to other leg and joint muscles as the body recalibrates itself to support the injured ankle. I watch out for misalignment of the ankle, knee and hip.

The pain went away by the second day. By then, I could feel a considerable difference in strength of both legs. The muscles in the injured leg had become weaker. With the ankle healing, I progressed to weight bearing exercises on equipment to strengthen the leg in order to support the body. Mobility exercises were incorporated to bring movement back to the foot.

With pain, I have observed that fear manifests. Even when the injured area has physically healed, the fear remains. This explains why an individual with ankle injuries continue to limp even though the ankle has healed. Whether it is fear of not being able to walk again, fear of not being able to run in the upcoming marathon or fear of pain, it is important to address these emotional issues as it can block the healing process. I teach my clients to also let go of these fears so healing can take place.

The programme I developed certainly helped to accelerate the healing process. I have not had pain since then. I am back spinning and doing cardio classes.