Ankle Sprains

What is the anatomy of the ankle?

ankle joint

The ankle joint is composed of 3 bones: the tibia, fibula and talus. Ligaments provide the ankle with stability.  Ligaments are like thick elastic bands and hold a joint together by attaching one bone to another. Muscles that come from below the knee and attach to the bones of the foot help to move the ankle.

What is an ankle spain?

Sprains are injuries to ligaments.  An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments of the ankle are over stretched, partially torn or completely torn. This occurs when foot moves beyond its normal range of motion.

Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe. Depending on the amount of ligament that is damaged, an ankle sprain is classified as: grade 1= mild sprain, grade 2= moderate sprain, grade 3= severe sprain.  Most ankle sprains are due to injury of the ligaments on the outside (lateral side) of the ankle.

lat ankle strain

What is the immediate treatment after an ankle sprain?

The RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) method should be used as soon as possible and for the next 72 hours after the injury. RICE helps to decrease pain and swelling around the ankle joint and promotes healing. The use of a gait aid, such as crutches, may be required depending on the severity of the sprain.

How long does it take for an ankle sprain to heal?

Most ankle sprains will heal in 3-8 weeks. The move severe the sprain, the longer it takes the ligaments to heal. Physiotherapy can help to decrease pain, increase ankle movement and get you back to normal activities more quickly.

What is the S.M.A.R.T. approach?

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association recommends the S.M.A.R.T. approach to assist early recovery and rehabilitation of most ankle sprains. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain, Talk to a physiotherapist.

STRETCH: Stretching will help to regain full ankle movement, increase circulation to aid the healing process, maintain muscle flexibility and strength.

MOVE: The severity of the ankle sprain will determine when and how much you start moving the joint. A physiotherapist will develop a progressive exercise program to promote range of motion and muscle strengthening while preventing further damage.

ADD IT UP: When recovering from an ankle sprain, you need to consider the effect of all the activities you do during the entire day. Planing time for rest during the day is important for continued healing.

REDUCE STRAIN: There are a number of things that can be done to protect the ankle when it is healing to reduce the risk of re-injury. These include: wearing an ankle brace, having a physiotherapist tape your ankle, taking part in a progressive exercise program, avoid activities on slippery or uneven surfaces, warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

TALK TO A PHYSIOTHERAPIST: A physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment of your ankle and plan a personalized rehabilitation program to help reduce swelling and pain, improve range of motion, strengthen the ankle and help you attain your rehabilitation goals.  For more information or to set up an appointment, contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via phone 905-637-1414 or email: 



Prevent Aches While You Rake


With our demanding and often fast paced lives, it becomes an increasingly difficult feat to take the time to listen to our bodies, and to re-evaluate the goals we set for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With the Fall season in full gear, and Winter soon approaching around the corner, this time of year becomes a great opportunity to check-in with our bodies to reinforce proactive health behaviours, and to see if we are truly doing our bodies right!

Many activities that we engage in to prepare for the changing seasons require repetitive physical movements that unfortunately place our bodies at risk for injury, especially if we do not adopt a proactive approach to our health. Unwanted aches and pains may accompany common seasonal activities, whether these activities include raking leaves, cutting firewood, clearing gardens, or shoveling those first few snowflakes. Such preventable aches and pains are often attributable to muscle imbalances, faulty body mechanics, and poor postures. What can we do to combat these potential concerns? To equip yourself with the tools to avoid the risk of injury, remember these three key principles…

1. Engage in proper body mechanics

2. Utilize optimal body postures

3. Properly prepare your body!

 To apply these principles, some useful tips have been created to follow before, during, and after your seasonal activities Let’s take raking leaves as an example…

Before: The key is in prevention…

– Engage in regular exercise to prepare your body à this will help ensure that such activities do not over-exert your body

– Maintain physical fitness with a regimented program that incorporates strength, flexibility, and endurance exercises

– Reduce the risk of repetitive strain with a warm up and stretching routine for the large muscle groups, including your legs, back/neck, and arms before you begin. Warm up for at least 5 minutes, and ensure you hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds

During: You can do it…

– Pace yourself, stay hydrated, take breaks, and make time goals/limits: for example~ work for 20-30 minute intervals

– Hold the rake snug to your body with elbows slightly bent- this will allow you to stand up tall and engage your core to help stabilize your back during the activity

– Maintain good posture by alternating your position and the side you are raking with

– Stagger your feet, keep your knees soft (not locked) and shift forward and backward using your leg musclesà Avoid planting your feet, overreaching and bending/twisting through your back… get those happy feet moving!

If raking the leaves is half the battle… Bagging is the other!!

– Let’s face it, those bags can weigh quite a bit. Test the weight of the bag before lifting it- be sure to only lift loads that are manageable and let those legs do the lifting

– Assume a wide base of support- this will add additional stability, and allow you to stand as close to the bag as possible

– Contract your core muscles, bend at the knees and hips, NOT your back- keep your back in a neutral spine position

-Always remember to engage your core, these are your built-in corset muscles!

After: It’s not time to sit back a relax just yet…

– Just as you prepared your body to begin the exercise, you must prepare your body to complete the exercise

– Your cool down is especially important if the activity has been strenuous and increased your heart rate~ be sure to spend 5 minutes cooling down before resting

– Allowing your muscles to gradually cool and your heart rate to return to resting level will reduce the delayed muscle soreness you may experience, allow your blood to circulate throughout your body, and reduce your risk of injury

Make yourself priority, get connected, and listen to your body…Your health is worth it!

This message is brought to you by Lauren Pontarini, a Registered Physiotherapist at Kinetic Physiotherapy. At Kinetic Physiotherapy, we strive to help people restore, maintain and maximize strength, function, mobility and overall well-being. We use customized care that is tailored to meet your individual lifestyle, and specific goals. We are conveniently located in downtown Burlington. Please feel free to contact us for more information about our therapists, services, unique programs and more! We can be reached by phone at 905-637-1414, email at, and check us out at

Stand Up Straight!

What is posture?

Posture is the body’s position and alignment against the force of gravity. When we are lying, sitting and standing, gravity is exerting a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture occurs when the force of gravity is distributed evenly throughout the body so no single structure is overstressed.

Why is good posture important?

  • Reduces stress on ligaments and muscles
  • Keeps your spine and other bones and joints in correct alignment
  • Decreases the wear and tear on joint surfaces
  • Prevents overuse injuries
  • Prevents back, neck and muscle pain
  • Prevents fatigue and unnecessary energy expenditure because muscle are used more efficiently

What is required for good posture?

1)    Back: A healthy back has 3 natural curves. The first is a slight forward curve in the neck, the second is a slight backward curve in the upper back and the third is a slight forward curve in the low back. These 3 curves need to be kept in balanced alignment to maintain good posture.

2)    Muscles: Muscles that are both flexible and strong are important for good posture. When your core, leg and hip muscles are inflexible and weak, they are unable to support your back’s natural curves.

3)    Joints: During movement, your ankle, knee and hip joints balance your back’s natural curves. This allows you to maintain a good posture in any position.

What does good posture look like?

Standing: Your body should be in straight vertical alignment. From the side, you should see the three natural curves of the back as well as a vertical imaginary line through the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. From the back, the head and spine should be straight, not curved to either side. From the front, the shoulders knee and hips should be equal heights and the head should be straight not turned or titled.

Sitting: Your spine and head should be upright, the three natural curves of the back are maintained.


What causes poor posture?

Often poor posture is a result of an accident or fall that causes injury. But, poor posture also develops from bad habits and environmental factors. That means that you have control over your posture.

Most often, poor posture is the result of a combination of several factors that include: fracture or other injury, weak muscles and muscular imbalance, boney deformity such as a leg length difference, careless sitting, standing and sleeping habits, emotional and physical tension which can manifest as muscles being held tight, clenched teeth and raised shoulders, obesity, pregnancy, improper footwear, work stress (e.g. prolonged periods of sitting or standing, poorly designed work stations), sleeping with poor support from bed and/or pillow, and negative self image.

How can you improve your posture?

Check out this video about maintaining proper posture at work.

How can physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapy can be used to improve poor posture and relieve the associated pain. Through a postural assessment, a physiotherapist can establish the causal factors contributing to poor posture and develop a treatment plan to address these issues. Persistent poor posture over the years can cause prolonged pain, discomfort, and increased risk for injury. Early intervention is essential. If you need help to correct your posture, contact Kinetic Physiotherapy via phone 905-637-1414 or email:

The Down Low on Your Low Back


 What is low back pain?

As the name suggests, low back pain is an ache or discomfort in the lower part (lumbar region) of the spine. Low back pain is characterized by a range of signs and symptoms including: pain, muscle stiffness, tension, tenderness, and decreased range of motion. Individuals may also experience weakness in the legs or feet and possibly tingling sensation traveling down the legs.  Back pain is considered acute when symptoms last 6 weeks or less and chronic when symptoms last longer than 3 months. Symptoms can vary with intensity and can significantly impact normal activities of daily living, social life and work.


What structures make up the lower back?

The lower back consists of 5 bones called the lumbar vertebrae. These vertebrae support the body and protect the spinal cord and nerves. Between each vertebra are spongy pads of cartilage called intervertebral discs. These discs provide shock absorption and allow for flexibility in the lower back. Bands of tissue called ligaments attach the vertebrae to one another and hold them in place. Tendons attach muscles to the vertebrae.

Who develops low back pain?

Low back pain is one of the most common chronic conditions in Canada. It is estimated that 4 out of 5 adults will experience at least one episode of back pain during their lives.  Back pain most often occurs between the ages of 30 and 50 but can affect any person at any age.

What causes low back pain?

There are numerous causes for low back pain.  However, the exact cause is only discovered in 12-15% of patients.  Some of the most common causes of back pain include:

  • Muscle or ligament strains
  • Disc problem: the cushion between the bones of the spine can bulge out of place, herniate or rupture. Discs also wear down with time as we age.
  • Arthritis: vertebral joints can be affected by arthritis, which causes degeneration and inflammation within the joint
  • Muscle weakness: weakness of deep abdominal muscles can increase strain on the lower back

 What are the risk factors for low back pain?

Lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, pregnancy, older age and prior back injury all increase your risk for developing low back pain. In addition, certain activities such as lifting, bending or twisting and  standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time predispose you to back injury.

 What can I do to help prevent low back pain?

  • Begin a safe exercise program with advice of a health care professional
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Practice good posture
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time
  • When lifting, hold object close to your body, keep your back straight and bend at the needs
  • Avoid twisting your body when lifting
  • Wear supportive footwear
  • If you smoke, quit

How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapists are trained to assess and treat low back pain. Depending on the client’s goals, symptoms, and cause of pain, various treatment techniques can be used. These include: advice on early activity, joint mobilization, strengthening, stretching and stabilization exercises, ergonomic and postural advice, pain relief techniques and soft tissue work.

If you or someone you know is experiencing low back pain, please contact Kinetic Physiotherapy by phone at 905-637-1414 or email: Let us help you decrease pain, prevent further injury and return you to the life you want to live.