Question. Why do I keep spraining my ankle?
Answer: People who keep spraining their ankle may think they are just unlucky – but according to Chinese medicine there’s far more to it than that.
Think back to the first time you sprained your ankle? What was going on for you at the time? Did your ankle ever fully recover?
Simple ankle sprains have a recurrence rate of around 80%. Even if there is no recurrence, 72% of people who suffer an ankle sprain still report residual symptoms 6-18 months after the injury. This is despite the fact that most have returned to their normal activities within a couple of weeks. Ankle sprains also account for up to 30% of all sports-related injuries
According to the rules of Chinese medicine, the meridians that pass through the area will have an important energetic impact on the strength and functionality of the ankle. The outside and front of the ankle are controlled mostly by the liver and gallbladder meridians. The liver meridian is known to be the driver for organising and planning. Meanwhile, the gallbladder meridian is involved with decision making. It makes the final decision, acting upon the organisation and plans that have been made.
So, if you are in a position where you need to make a big decision, for example changing job, changing a close relationship or moving house, the normal process is that you think and worry, then finally plan and decide. The energetic processing of this occurs at the ankle, during motion/activity. (Maybe this is why people so often find that walking or running helps with making their mind up about an issue).
However, it you are taking a long time to do this, or you are finding it difficult to view the situation flexibly, then in the end, the ankle will be weakened and vulnerable. In this instance, an inversion strain, with the ankle turning under and in, is more likely to occur, however any injury is possible.
Your ankle injury may occur on the inside of the joint. The spleen and stomach meridians control this side. They represent the subconscious and conscious mind and the process of worrying about and thinking through an issue occurs here. Excessive and continuous worrying will weaken this side.
So, in essence indecisiveness with excessive worrying can cause weakness and instability in the ankle. Any time you are about to "take a big step forward in life" and are faced with a particular big decision that you really struggle with, you are that much more prone to twisting your ankle, or worse.
How can your ankle injury be treated? In my experience it is often useful to start by addressing the subconscious beliefs and resistances underpinning the injury. This can be done with BodyTalk or with Psych-K. Sometimes the meridians themselves will need to be addressed. There may be stagnation in the energy flow.
I find that once the psychological issue is addressed, the symptoms of the injury can lessen markedly. Then osteopathic techniques can be used on the relevant areas, addressing bony, ligamentous, fascial and fluid levels of dysfunction.
Manual lymphatic drainage can be used to help with swelling and bruising; exercise is important, to build up any hypotonic muscles and to create and maintain flexibility. Particular attention should be paid to repairing the proprioception at the joint, for example with wobble board and other balancing exercises.
Remember: throughout life your ankle supports your weight and gives flexibility to your steps. If your ankle is strong, you will take strong steps in life.