Frequently Asked Questions

Please help! I'm two weeks away from my senior dance recital and I sprained my ankle. What can I do to get fast aid and get back on my feet in time for the show?

Ankle sprains are very, very common in athletes of all kinds, but especially among dancers of all kinds. As with most soft tissue injuries, healing and recovery takes time. The amount of time depends on the severity of the injury. Partial tears of the ligaments may require less recovery time compared with complete ruptures. The severity of injury also determines the type of treatment. Most of the time, ankle sprains are handled nonoperatively. The foot and ankle are immobilized in an Ace wrap, cast, or airsplint. Compression from this type of immobilization helps keep the swelling down. The leg is elevated and ice is applied to the injured area. Severe injuries may require the use of crutches when standing or walking. If placing weight on the foot is too painful, then walking (and dancing) is limited by partial or non-weightbearing status. The natural recovery of an ankle sprain is usually six to eight weeks. Dancing on the leg too soon increases your risk of ankle sprain recurrence. If you are planning a career that involves dancing, then taking care of this injury now may help prevent future re-injuries. A fair number of athletes who sprain their ankles go on to develop chronic ankle instability, with repeated ankle sprains and strains.

Tricia J. Hubbard, PhD, ATC, and Mitchell Cordova, PhD, ATC. Mechanical Instability After an Acute Lateral Ankle Sprain. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabiliation. July 2009. Vol. 90. No. 7. Pp. 1142-1146.

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