Week 3 of the NFL was played this past weekend and with it came some notable absences of the league’s top players.  One of the most noticeable was the absence of Christian McCaffrey, the Carolina Panther’s tenacious running back that was involved in nearly 94% of the Panther’s plays last season, who was sidelined in week 2 by a high ankle sprain

Ankle sprains are common in athletics and in life.  It is hypothesized that 7 in every 1000 Americans will experience some type of ankle sprain in their lifetime.  However, there are actually several different types of ankle sprains that can occur.

The most common ankle sprain is what is known as an “inversion” ankle sprain, which happens when the foot rolls inward.  This sprain accounts for nearly 90% of all ankle injuries and is the injury people refer to as “rolling their ankle.”

The least common ankle sprain is known as an “eversion” ankle sprain, which happens when the foot rolls outward.  This happens the least due to the great strength of the ligaments on the inside of the foot preventing that injury from occurring.

A high ankle sprain, the injury Christian McCaffrey suffered, is an injury of the ligaments that hold the lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula, together. These ligaments help prevent excessive twisting of the lower leg bones on each other and are damaged when excessive twisting occurs.

Unfortunately for McCaffrey and the Panthers, high ankle sprains typically take a while to heal, usually at an absolute minimum of 6 weeks, but generally 12 weeks or longer.  A good rule of thumb to use when healing any injury is that bone generally takes around 6 weeks to heal while soft tissue structures, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, take at least 3 months to fully heal.

While it is difficult to predict why and when injuries occur, we do know that it is crucial to work out the muscles of the lower leg to improve stability, balance, and strength in our everyday lives. Talk with a physical therapist to find out which exercises are best to improve these factors affecting ankle health.

Published September 30, 2020 | Posted in NFL Injury Spotlight.