Filed under: Tips & Guides
Photo by jrsundsbak (Flickr)
One of the most common capoeira injuries is a sprained ankle. I think it’s inevitable that every capoeirista will twist an ankle at some point. Some sprains are worse than others, but they all tend to suck.
As you may know, your joints are held together by tough yet stretchy bands of tissue called ligaments. A sprain occurs when a ligament is overstretched; this can cause the ligament to form tears or be completely ripped apart.
There are numerous situations in capoeira where an ankle sprain could happen (just think of all the twists and turns we take and all the stress we put on our poor ankles during movements), and take it from me that it most likely will happen. I’ve sprained both of my ankles a bunch of times.
The worst sprain I’ve ever had (I’m still not fully recovered from it 2 years later) happened when I landed a backflip wrong. I was practicing on a bouncy gymnastics floor and I took an extra hop after landing a roundoff backflip. When I came down my ankle rolled and I heard a loud pop followed by excruciating pain.
It was not fun at all.
Luckily I knew how to take care of it until I was able to go see a doctor the next day. And hopefully when you’re done reading this, you will too!
Please remember, you should always seek the advice of a doctor for any injury, especially if it’s serious. I am not a doctor. This information is in no way intended to replace the advice of a health professional.
If you sprain your ankle, the most important thing to do is to remember the acronym P.R.I.C.E.
P.R.I.C.E. stands for:
- Protect your ankle from further injury by not using it as much as possible. This can be accomplished by taping it, using a splint (or air cast as seen in the picture above, which you can probably get from the emergency room for free), using crutches, etc.
- Rest your injured ankle for the first 24 hours (or longer depending on the severity of the sprain). You don’t have to avoid all activity (you don’t need to just lay in bed like a slug, you can move around), just avoid anything that would bear weight on your injured ankle. While you’re resting you can always stay connected to the capoeira world by reading The Capoeira Blog or sharing war stories with Capoeira Espaco friends.
- Ice your ankle as soon as you can after you sustain the injury, and then intermittently after for the first 24 hours or more. Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to avoid frostbite or other damage to your skin, and be careful not to keep it on your skin for too long at one time (try 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off).
- Compress your ankle with an ACE bandage or other type of elastic wrap. This is where the air brace I mentioned earlier can also come into play. Make sure the bandage isn’t too tight, there should be enough room to slip a finger underneath the bandage. Wrapping too tight could cut off circulation and cause further injury.
- Elevate your injured ankle whenever possible (when you’re sitting on the couch or laying in bed) to about chest level. This will help to limit or prevent further swelling.
As I said before, it is always best to contact a doctor to be sure you receive the best care possible. If you hear a popping sound and experience terrible pain (like I did) you should definitely see a doctor as soon as possible.
If the sprain is less severe you could probably treat it at home, but if you don’t see any improvement after the first few days, or if the area is red and hot and you have a fever (you could have an infection) you should go to your doctor.
It is also important to avoid applying heat to the sprain in the first 24 hours because heat can increase swelling. Sometimes your doctor might recommend using heat after the first 2 or 3 days, but never do it initially (always use ice which prevents swelling by constricting the blood vessels).
Also take care to avoid drinking alcohol, taking excessively hot showers, or taking asprin. You can take Tylenol or Ibuprophen for the pain.
Depending on the severity of your sprain, your doctor might recommend physical therapy to rehabilitate your ankle. This should be done under the supervision of a professional to avoid any further injury. I went to physical therapy for a few weeks after my bad sprain, and the results were amazing.
Hopefully you’ll never have to use any of the information I’ve just given you. But if you do find yourself with a sprained ankle, perhaps now you’ll be better able to deal with one of capoeira’s most common injuries.
As always, if you’ve enjoyed this post and think others might find it helpful, feel free to Stumble it or add it to your Del.icio.us bookmarks. Also, if you have anything to add or want to share your own stories of pain and suffering, please do so in the comments!
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