Ligaments are strong, fibrous cords that connect bones to bones. They are tougher and have less stretch and give than tendons, which connect muscles to bones. A sudden, abrupt movement that causes great force on your joint can cause a ligament to stretch or tear.
When your ligament is stretched, it’s a sprain. You’ve probably sprained your ankle at some point in your life, so you know what a ligament injury feels like. A bad sprain, called a Grade 3 sprain, is when your ligament tears completely, or nearly completely, apart.
At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates, our expert providers specialize in treating orthopedic injuries, including ligament injuries. And, though we love our jobs, and we’re happy to help our patients, we’d rather help you avoid injury, if possible. In this post we describe some of the most common ligament injuries and how you can avoid them.
Ankles and knees
Sprained ankles are remarkably common. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore a sprain. An ankle sprain that doesn’t heal properly leaves you vulnerable to another sprain, and repeated sprains lead to ankle instability.
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or a torn meniscus, they were describing ligament injuries in the knee. Your knee’s stability comes in large part from the ligaments that hold it in place. Your ACL provides stability when you rotate, and if you play a sport where you need to pivot quickly, like basketball, your ACL is vulnerable.
Although ankles and knees are the most common joints to suffer sprains, ligament injuries also happen in wrists, shoulders, and other joints.
Tips for avoiding injury
Some injuries can’t be prevented, but with a bit of foresight you may be able to avoid sprains. Here are some measures you can take.
1. Wear stable, appropriate shoes
Wearing high heels to walk across a gravel parking lot in the dark is not safe, and could easily lead to a sprain. Similarly, wearing boots to play soccer isn’t safe. Make sure your footwear fits well and is designed for whatever activity you’re doing, even if it’s simply walking.
2. Always warm up before exercise
Getting your muscles and joints ready for exercise by increasing blood flow is an important step in injury prevention. When your joints and the tissues that support them are warm, they’re more flexible and less prone to injury.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight places more pressure on your joints, ligaments, and tendons. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet, and get some exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight for your age, sex, and build.
4. Build up your activity level
Trying to go from couch potato to marathoner in a week is a sure path to injury. It’s good to feel enthusiastic about an activity, but build up slowly to protect your joints.
5. Mix your activities
Do you love playing basketball and want to do it every day? Generally speaking, it’s much better to vary your activities. Mixing cardio exercise with strength-building exercise and flexibility training is the best way to improve your fitness and protect your joints.
If you’ve already endured a sprain, or you have questions about how you can avoid a sprain in the future, book an appointment with us at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates. We’re happy to answer your questions in the context of your situation. Simply call 234-430-0079 to schedule your appointment at our office in Independence, Ohio.