Here’s a quick overview of how the ankle works… There are 3 bones: the tibia, fibula and talus. These bones are held together by ligaments, which are are tough elastic bands of connective tissue that help stabilize the joint. Think of ligaments like a rope with a series of tough, intertwined cords. Have a look at the main bones and ligaments below…
So, ligaments connect bone to bone… In contrast, tendons connect muscle to bone. Tendons are also really tough cords, but they have a little bit more flexibility, so they can move with the muscles and are particularly important for absorbing impact from movement. When the muscle moves, the tendon has to bring the bone along with it safely.
Since, ligaments connect bone to bone, they are important for stability. Tendons are also important for stability, but more so for flexibility. They help you get in and out of different ranges of motion safely. Have a look at the various tendons in the ankle below. It’s a bit technical, but it gives you an idea of the complexity of the tendons in the ankle and foot…
How to heal torn ankle tendons
Even though the tendons in the ankle and foot are very complex. the healing process is the same 3 step process as for any other injury…
Step one is called the inflammatory response. The injured area will go through a kind of quarantine and the area will swell and become immobile, while the body prepares to start the actual healing process. This step occurs almost instantly after the injury to protect it from further damage.
Step two is the repair. This is when the body sends in waves of powerful immune cells to help repair the damaged tendons. This step is particularly important in the first 24-48 hours after the injury.
Finally, step three is called the remodel. In this last step, the body attempts to remodel the tendons back to full strength. This requires rebuilding the tendons and ensuring they can function normally in all ranges of motion, without limitation.
Now, if any one of these steps is impaired or sabotaged in any way, then it can affect the entire healing process… Think of it like a domino effect. Each step follows in a common sense way and you do not want to disrupt any part of it. In fact, what you really want to do is support and encourage each step to function at its maximum capacity. That is how you will heal fully and quickly.
And that brings us to the #1 mistake people make when they get injured…. ICE. We have written a number of articles on the danger of using ice after an injury, but if you would like to learn more about it, please click here.
In short, ice attempts to stop the inflammation process and also sabotages steps two and three (the repair and remodel) by blocking the flow of immune cells to the injured area. Ice also has the negative effect of stopping lymphatic drainage, which sabotages your body’s attempt to remove the waste from the injury. While ice is somewhat effective as a short term pain reliever, we do not recommend it as a healing tool, unless medically advised to use it.
There’s another common mistake that people make… they avoid seeing a doctor. If it’s more than a simple sprain, you should always determine the extent of the injury. For example, if you have a fracture, the area has to be immobilized until it heals. But, if it’s not a fracture, you should begin a movement program as soon as possible, assuming your doctor gives you the green light. So, go get checked out and then you will know what to do next, instead of guessing.
The power of ankle rehab
A wide variety of research has consistently shown that a good rehab program is the best way to fully heal tendon injuries in the ankle. Here are the main steps to healing ankle tendons with an excellent rehab program…
- Support and encourage the healthy flow of blood, nutrients and immune cells to the injured area.
- Support and encourage the removal of waste and debris from the injured area.
- Safely and gently use flexibility training to improve range of motion.
- Safely and gently use stability exercises to improve tendon stability.
- Safely and gently use strength exercises to improve overall tendon and muscle strength in the ankle, foot and calf.
There are some very powerful and safe techniques that have been proven to significantly speed up and improve the overall quality the healing process. That is what a good, holistic ankle rehab program should be able to do for you. So, if you have tendons in the ankle that have been injured, please see a doctor and if possible, begin a good ankle rehab program as soon as possible.
HEM Ankle Rehab
HEM Ankle Rehab is a complete ankle healing system that works for torn tendons, ligaments, any new ankle sprain as well as all other types of ankle, foot and calf injuries. We designed HEM to ensure it is safe and easy to do for people of all ages and activity levels. HEM ensures you will be able to move pain free while also significantly reducing the risk of future injury.
You can do HEM at home, without any equipment and it only takes a few minutes a day. Just follow along with the easy step by step videos or ebook (you get both) on any device.