The never healing sprained ankle

As a youth, I was very athletic. Then, when I was about 35, I became overburdened with work and family obligations, and so I let myself go a bit.

On the occasion of my fortieth birthday though, I looked at myself in the mirror, and noticing with horror the belly that had transformed my outline, I promised myself I would return to running regularly the way I used to do when I was twenty.

So I managed to get a pair of very expensive running shoes as a gift, and the following day, early in the morning, I gulped a cup of coffe and out I went, running on the street.

I knew I was to go slowly for the first few weeks and pay attention to maintain a low heart rate, and then I had to concentrate on breathing and keep the shoulders relaxed and... I stepped into a hole in the sidewalk and fell badly twisting my right ankle.

It didn't hurt that much at first, but then after I retuned home I could see that the ankle was swollen and I started to feel a burning pain in the area of the external Malleolus. So I bandaged the leg in an improvised fashion and went limping to work.

After a couple of weeks, the swelling had subsided, even though when walking I had the sensation of my right foot being slightly unstable. At any rate, I decided it was time to go back to my running program, and so I went to the park for a slow-paced run. But it happened again! And I sprained the same ankle, although luckily not so violently as the first time. But the pain came back quite intense, and I started worrying that I could have damaged my ligaments irremediably.

A collegue of mine at work had explaied to me that as a child she experienced exactly the same situation, and that after a sprained ankle accident, the ligament weakens and as a results it is easier to incur in repeated sprains. Her ligaments had weakened so much from the repeated traumas that eventually she had to undergo repairing surgery.

So I became really worried and convinced myslf that I had damaged my leg beyond hope. I decided to stop running and to try to improve the damage with rest. After three months however, the pain was still present and the foot seemed unstable when walking, and new ankle sprains tended to reoccur very easily. I really feared I would need to undergo ligament repair surgery.

But then a friend advised me to see a massage therapist experienced in trigger point therapy, and so half-heartedly I booked an appointment. But that turned out to be the best decision I could have taken.

The therapist found an extremely tender spot right below the knee on the outer side of the leg, and he truly caused me to see stars for a good five minutes. But when I stood up from the table, the pain at the Malleolus had disappeared - after four months! And the foot seemed more stable.

The therapist showed me how to continue the treatment at home by myself, teaching me how to use the thumbs effectively and safely, ad explaining that the problem was being maintained by a trigger point in the Peroneus muscle that was causing stress at the lower attachment with the tendon that had been traumatized by the sprain. It was this chronic stress that was preventing the tendon from completing the healing. He also explained that I was to massage the tendon itself in a specific manner, besides working on the spot below the knee. Finally he advised a gentle stretching exercise and said that I could go back to running, provided I focused on the proper placement of my feet on the ground instead of thinking just about everything else while running.

Back home, I noticed only a slight residual tenderness caused by the deep massage, which the therapist had predicted as a normal occurrence, and I practiced the massages and the other advices for a couple of week. But the pain had disappeared during those five minutes of healing "torture" at the therapist's, never to come back, while now I run for 45 minutes three times a week and thanks to the regular exercise I've lost 16 pounds.