By Dave Regis

The Six Nations is well underway after an exciting and action packed two games in the championship. Ireland and France remain on a high following their 100% record whilst Scotland have suffered back to back defeats and have only been able to clock up six points in the process. There is still everything to play for however with three more games left before the winning country is crowned.

Rugby involves a lot of high intensity and high impact actions such as sprinting, tackling, rucking and mauling. The injury risk in rugby is substantial, at similar levels to other full contact sports like American Football and ice hockey. In professional rugby there were 82 injuries per 1,000 hours of match play in 2011/12 season, compared with 8 injuries per 1,000 hours in professional football between 2001 and 2008.

The ankle is one of the most prone areas to injury, as seen in the majority of running based sports. This article focuses on the different types of injuries you can experience and the typical treatment options available.

Sprained ankle

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the rugby pitch or walking to the shops, a sprained ankle can happen at any time, with over 1 million visits to accident and emergency a year as a result. In the majority of cases on the field a sprained ankle occurs as a result of overuse, where a player becomes tired and there is an increased risk of rolling their ankle.

A sprained ankle is a mild condition, with the ligaments within the joint taking a few days to heal before you can get back on your feet and return to training. Ligaments are the tough bands of tissue within a joint which are responsible for stabilisation, which is why it can be difficult to apply weight to a damaged ankle and walk freely.

In the immediate aftermath of the injury you should stop and rest and apply the RICE principle in resting, applying ice to help manage pain, compression of the joint to reduce inflammation and elevation to also help to reduce swelling. Compression is typically offered in the form of an ankle brace.

Ankle lateral ligament injury

On the outside (lateral side) of the ankle is a strong ligament which works to provide stability to the joint. This is stretched when the ankle is ‘rolled’, a common injury amongst athletes. Depending on the severity of the tear the ligament can be painful and swollen, sometimes with bruising and will definitely restrict the ability to walk and run. The whole body weight passes through the ankle so it has to be as strong as possible. Players who suffer ligament strains are more likely to have repeat injuries. Extra support can be provided to the ankle by an ankle brace. It is very important to have a full recovery before returning to previous activity levels, physiotherapists will be able to advice on strengthening exercises to give you the best chance of injury prevention. Final Thoughts

In such a competitive and intense sport as rugby injuries are bound to happen, whether from overuse or through accidents due to the contact nature of the sport. The vast majority of rugby injuries are self-limiting and you should expect to recover within a few days following rest, with ice being used to help manage any inflammation experienced.

If your injury fails to show signs of improvement after a few days then it would be advisable to speak with a clinician for a professional diagnosis as further treatment may be required either in the form of physiotherapy, strengthening exercises, a sports brace or in some instances even surgery.

With many professionals now opting to wear a sports braces following rugby injuries Dave Regis discusses how the use of an ankle brace can aid rehabilitation.

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By Dave Regis The Six Nations is well underway after an exciting and action packed two games in the championship. Ireland and France remain on a high following their 100% record whilst Scotland have suffered back to back defeats and have only been able to clock up six points in...