Ankles. We have two of them. The vast majority of patients I see have sprained one of them at some point in their lives. This is a question I normally leave to the end of the consultation questions, normally receiving a confused look… I can see the cogs turning in my thinking patients head, “…What? My ankles? Really, what has that got to do with my back…”. Well, it has can everything to do with your back pain. It has everything to do with your knee pain, your hip pain, your neck pain, your shoulder pain, you name it pain. Our feet and ankles are crucial aspects of our bodies that are far too often overlooked.
The soles of our feet have 200,000 receptors. Our foot and ankle complex has 26 bones, with one quarter of the bones in our body in our feet (!). There are 33 joints (!!) and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments (!!!). All these structures within the ankle and feet are neurological powerhouses when it comes to sending our nervous system and brain information about where we are in space, the terrain we are walking on, how to safely move and change direction, plus many more. If your car had one, or two dodgy tyres, how would your car drive? Badly. And whats more, you wouldn’t put up with it. The same applies to our feet and ankles. If we have disrupted the information cycle between our feet and ankles and brain at any point during our lives, this can have ramifications for the rest of body, immediately or later on in the future.
When you sprain an ankle, it significantly changes the way that you walk. It’s obvious at the beginning, but as time progresses and it begins to heal and you can walk more ‘normally’ again. However, it doesn’t mean that the ankle and foot have been properly rehabilitated back into a fully functional part of the body. Your nervous system won’t think so, and will be protective of it without you even realising. This can spell potential problems later on, with many people re-spraining the same ankle over and over again. The vicious cycle begins. The neurological information systems keeps become disrupted, and it goes on.
The bottom line is, our ankle and feet are crucial to the optimum function of the body. Pay attention to those ankle sprains, they might be more important that you think!