Monday, June 14, 2010

High/Low Ankle Sprain

Have you noticed how so-called "experts" try to give themselves credibility by changing traditional terms? They think if they say "velocity" instead of "speed" to describe how fast a baseball pitcher throws that somehow they have said something earthshaking or unique, something that a regular person or a layman could never think up. As if a basketball announcer throwing out the word "length" describes a player's attributes better than just saying he has long arms, as two fans would say to each other as they watched a game. And wouldn't you think an announcer who has been calling games for over thirty years would by now know the difference between a curve ball, a slider or a spitball instead of saying "breaking ball". And does anyone know the difference between a "sports hernia" and a regular hernia? I guess having a big strong professional athlete be diagnosed with the same injury that a fifty year old couch potato can acquire from a lifetime of reaching for a bag of chips while he is lifting a sixteen ounce brewski is humiliating for the jock. Do you get more credibility for acquiring the injury while in a stadium being watched by 60,000 fans than you do while sitting on your butt stuffing your face? The last time I looked the guy with the washboard abs and the fat boy are still lying flat on their back, hooked up to an IV and hoping the doctor doing the work has a steady hand for any work being done below the waist. And then there are the announcers who have "to get it right" for their credibility by saying, "Jo Blo has twenty-five RBI this year", as opposed the way we were all brought up saying RBIs or ribbys. I love it when one of the announcers, who's older than me, slips up and calls it the old way without noticing it. I wonder how many twits or blogs or emails they get from geeks, who never played the game, calling them out on their mistake.

Then there is the "high ankle" sprain which I guess is somehow different from the "low ankle" sprain. Yah, yah I know I should Google "sprained ankles" and find out that there are a gazillion types of sprained ankles some of which fall into the "high" and others that fall into the "low" ankle sprain category. Sorry but I don't buy it because the last time I looked I had one joint that I call my ankle that meets right where the two bones in my calf connect to my foot. Also I don't care what all of those bones are called but I do know that if you step on the outside of your foot at the wrong angle and with enough force your ankle is going to twist and at that point it remains to be seen how bad you have sprained it. My experience with fifty-some years of athletics and running tells me that there are four types of sprains, three of which I have experienced and one that I hope I never do.

The first sprain, which I will call the "twist", is when you are cruising along without a care in the world and suddenly as you take the next step you feel your foot teeter for a moment to the outside before it lands in it's customary solid position on the surface upon which you are running. A brief flash of relief shoots through your brain as you realize those morning and evening ankle exercises are paying off and you continue down the sidewalk. The second sprain, which I will call the "roll", follows the same path as the "twist" but here your foot, instead of flattening into it's normal tread, continues the "twist" so that suddenly the weight of your body forces the ankle into an unnaturally exposed position stretching the outside of the foot at an abrupt angle. At that point, as the ligaments, muscles and bones are jammed away and against each other you have a brief moment where you evaluate the damage. The next step on the rolled ankle is the key and at that point you make a quick decision as to if you think you can keep running. Yup it's going to hurt but does it hurt so bad that you have to stop or as you limp forward does the pain abate somewhat and you can deal with it? If you can keep going sometimes the pain will disappear completely or you "suck it up" and at least keep going forward. The "roll" is terrific for the ego because you feel good that you handled the pain and "gutted" it out instead of quitting like a wimp. The third level of sprain I have experienced I will call the "blowout" and it follows the same track as the twist and the roll but usually ends up with the injured runner landing on his face in the middle of the sidewalk. At that point, gaining your feet and running down the sidewalk is usually not an option. From the point of your ankle twisting, rolling and blowing you feel as if an NFL defensive tackle has blindsided you and the next step is waiting for the stretcher to wheel you to the locker room. It's weird to explain it that way but for some reason the unnatural ankle action translates into a sickening domino effect from your foot all the way to your head and then suddenly you are down and wondering how you are going to get home on one foot. The "blowout" means that, because of the pain, you probably can't run, maybe you can walk with an exaggerated limp but in some cases you can't even walk. Whatever happens the key is to keep moving to wherever your destination is because your ankle is starting to swell and it is only going to get worse. Number four in the "hit parade" of hi/low ankle sprains is the break, which I have never experienced, and that is where one of those bones in the foot/leg ankle joint breaks and from there it is a walking cast, a couple of months of healing and then unknown weeks of rehab. They say it's better in the long run to break your ankle then to blow it out because the bones will heal back to normal whereas in a "blowout" the ligaments, cartilage and muscles get stretched into abnormal positions and never really heal back to normal. Well that may be but I NEVER want to break my ankle and my experience is that with regular exercise and a consistent rehab program an ankle can be strengthened so that you are less susceptible to future ankle injuries.    

My regular exercise program involves massaging and manipulating my ankles every morning after I wake up and every evening before I go to sleep. While sitting on the side of the bed I rub the heal, arch and pad of each foot then rotate each foot 180 degrees five times in a clockwise motion then rotate the foot five times in the opposite direction. Then I squeeze my achilles tendon very hard and massage it back and forth and then finish up by moving up my calf and then rubbing back down to my achilles. I've been following this regimen for over ten years and have had a few "twists" but no "rollovers" or "blowouts". That is until May 10th and June 13th which I will recount in my next blog; one big bummer.

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