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For years, Applied Kinesiology doctors such as myself have had the ability to quickly restore ankle function after a sprain by balancing out the sensors in the joints, ligaments and muscles.  This improves coordination during the healing process, which in turn cuts healing time substantially and reduces the likelihood of a re-injury.  I have found that a person responds very favorably if I can see them soon after the injury, ideally the same day.  Often times that person can be back up and moving around like normal within a couple days after the first treatment, rather than a few weeks later without the treatment.

I tell the story of when I was playing tennis with my dad while I was in chiropractic school — I rolled my ankle and was in so much pain that I was certain I had a grade 3 tear, which is a complete tear of the ligament.  I told him I was done for the day. For those of you who don’t know, my dad is a chiropractor and loves tennis. He said, “Don’t be silly.  I’ll fix you up and we can keep playing.”  I was certain I had a grade 3 tear since I couldn’t put weight on it and it felt weird to me.  I had just finished one of my classes on lower extremities (ankles specifically), so it was fresh in my mind. Well, he quickly performed an exam and determined he could adjust it, which he did. I was reluctant, but he was right when he said, “Stand up, you can play now.” That is exactly what I did. It wasn’t my best game but it was miraculous because I literally resumed my game within a couple minutes of the “serious” injury.

Recently the NYT published a great article on ankle sprains that jumps on board with the neurological approach, but they leave out how important ankle adjustments are for resetting the receptors in the joint itself.  It is still a great read, and the balance exercises they recommend may seem familiar to those who have been in to my office for ankle complaints — they are the same.

Until recently, clinicians thought that ankle sprains were primarily a matter of overstretched, traumatized ligaments. Tape or brace the joint, relieve pressure on the sore tissue, and a person should heal fully, they thought. But that approach ignored the role of the central nervous system, which is intimately tied in to every joint. “There are neural receptors in ligaments,” says Jay Hertel, an associate professor of Kinesiology at the University of Virginia and an expert on the ankle. When you damage the ligament, “you damage the neuro-receptors as well. Your brain no longer receives reliable signals” from the ankle about how your ankle and foot are positioned in relation to the ground. Your proprioception — your sense of your body’s position in space — is impaired. You’re less stable and more prone to falling over and re-injuring yourself,  says the NYT.

Next time you or a friend rolls their ankle, send them in ASAP so they can get Back to Work, Back to Play.