Three months ago I heavily sprained my ankle playing football and I’ve been trying to recover ever since. Everybody knows that once you sprain an ankle it’s easy to go over it again but what less people know is that if you rehabilitate it by strengthening around the ankle and work on the flexibility of the joint you should be able to get back to 100% fitness.
With this in mind I started moving it as soon as I could after injury and waited for the swelling to go down (which took weeks) before doing any heavier work on it. I was advised by a sports physio I know to work on strengthening my calf muscle and shin which I diligently did. I had to start gradually and gently build it up as the ankle was pathetically weak. I borrowed one of those big elastic band things to work on mobility and gradually strengthening the joint through it’s full range of motion. I even spent time sitting on a chair with my foot hooked around a door – pushing the door open – to strengthen the ankle (and boy did that hurt). I’d been assured that the ankle would often hurt like hell while exercising it but that while it would feel like something was going to snap I’d probably be alright!
Three months later and with much trepidation I decided to return to football on Wednesday not really sure if it would stand up to the punishment or not. Despite having done a lot of work on it along with plenty of running and weight training, there really is no preparation for actually playing football. You can’t simulate all the twisting and turning you do along with the fact that you get tackled, tripped up and pushed around so landing awkwardly is par for the course. I don’t think I’ve ever been that nervous before playing before!
Incredibly I got through the game fine. My touch was a little off, my passing wasn’t the best, my positional play wasn’t that good, my tackling was even worse than usual (if you can believe it) and my movement wasn’t as fluid as it should be. But it’s exactly what I’d expect after not playing for three months. I was subjected to a couple of hard tackles with no ill effects (aside from losing the ball on both occasions). The ankle was a bit sore the day after but to be honest so was the rest of me! It was great to play again although I need to keep up the work or, like my dodgy knee, it could go again. Now, I just have to avoid any new sprains or strains. I’m in danger of losing count of the number of old injuries I have to keep an eye on!