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Why Ankle Sprain Recovery Can Be So Challenging For Young Athletes

Being young has plenty of perks. Our bodies are developing and becoming stronger, and they also tend to heal faster than older bodies for a variety of reasons. While being young and athletic certainly offers some benefits when it comes to injury recovery, these factors can also secretly make it harder for you to fully overcome an ankle injury. In today’s blog, we explain why being young and athletic can sometimes be a detriment to ankle sprain recovery and how you can use your youth to your advantage when working to overcome an ankle sprain.

Challenges Young Athletes Face During Ankle Sprain Recovery

While it’s easier for an 18-year-old athlete to recover from a significant ankle sprain than an 81-year-old, being young and athletic also poses some unique challenges to the recovery process. Here’s how:

  • Competitors Want To Compete – No athlete wants to be sidelined with an injury, so oftentimes they do everything in their power to get back on the field as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that oftentimes means they return to athletic competition before they’ve fully healed. If you rush back to activity too quickly, you’re at a heightened risk for a setback. Your urge to compete and to help your teammates can actually be a detriment if you don’t achieve enough recovery before returning to athletics.
  • “Good Enough” Just Won’t Cut It – If you’re a young athlete, you ask a lot of your feet and ankles during competition, so “good enough” simply won’t cut it after an injury. If you’re an older adult who suffers an ankle sprain, you may not need to rehab as hard as a younger individual because you may not plan on returning to high-intensity activities, so you may be fine if your ankle ligaments never return to a pre-injury level of fitness. Conversely, if you’re young and hoping to get back to the best version of yourself on the court, you really need to pursue some proactive treatments to ensure that your ankle ligaments get back to a pre-injury level or become stronger than they were prior to your injury, otherwise it may take less force to sprain your ankle again.
  • You Think You’re Invincible – If you’re young and physically fit, you may feel like you’re invincible. Ankle fractures and ACL tears are for the people playing in the 40 and up recreational leagues, not a 17-year-old eyeing a college scholarship. If you just assume that an ankle sprain will eventually heal on its own and time is all you need to get right, you may find that your ankle sprain becomes a chronic problem. Again, it’s imperative to proactively strengthen damaged ankle ligaments, otherwise sprains can become recurrent during athletic activity. The sooner you realize that you’re not invincible and you have to put in work after an injury to help yourself fully recover, the better.
  • Hesitant To Seek Professional Help – Finally, we find that many young people are oftentimes reluctant to seek professional help for their injuries, especially for soft tissue injuries that aren’t as obvious as a fracture. Whether it’s because they feel like they are letting their teammates or parents down, or because they simply don’t know where to turn for professional advice, oftentimes young athletes are left to figure out the best treatment plan for themselves. We want to be your professional resource. Dr. McDonald and his team regularly work with athletes working to overcome a variety of foot and ankle injuries, and we can help you get back in the game sooner and safely. If you’re concerned about your ankle sprain or you simply want some guidance on how you can make the strongest recovery possible, talk to your parents, your athletic trainer or a foot and ankle specialist like Dr. McDonald.

Young athletes can certainly recover quickly after an ankle sprain, but they also face some unique challenges on their road to recovery. Don’t let one of these potential setbacks keep you off the field for longer than needed. For help overcoming a foot or ankle injury, or for other tips to improve your athletic performance, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.

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