« Back to News

2014 Winter Olympics: Speed Skating and Ankle Sprains

Date: February 12, 2014 Category: Uncategorized


Speed skating, also known as long track speed skating, involves competitors trying to achieve the fastest times while racing various distances around a 400-meter oval.  It is widely popular in the Netherlands and Norway and became an Olympic sport in 1924 in Chamonix, France with women’s events being added in the 1960 Games at Squaw Valley.  A recent trend in speed skating has been a switch from traditional speed skating skates that have the blade rigidly fixed to the boot to skates known as clap skates that have the blade attached to the boot by a hinge at the front.  This allows the blade to be in contact with the ice for a longer period of time and allows more natural movement that distributes leg energy more efficiently and effectively to increase speed.


What is it?  An ankle sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments that connect the bones that comprise and surround the ankle joint.  Ankle sprains can occur during falls, when landing from a jump awkwardly, when forcing the joint out of its normal position or if the ankle is twisted excessively.  If forces applied to the ankle are excessive enough, ligaments around the ankle can actually pull off pieces of bone to where the ligament attaches resulting in what is known as an avulsion fracture. 

What are the symptoms?  Patients will often note a twisting or “rolling” of their ankle at the time of injury that may or may not be accompanied by a “popping” or tearing sensation.  Immediate pain in the ankle joint is often present along with swelling, bruising, stiffness and difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg.  Coldness or numbness extending down into the foot may also be present.  Physicians can diagnose ankle sprains by simply conducting a physical exam but will often obtain x-rays to rule out fractures or other injuries.  

What is the treatment?  Initial treatment of ankle sprains focuses primarily on rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) of the affected ankle.  If the injury is severe enough, pain medication may also be prescribed.  In relatively minor sprains, as soon as the injury allows, range of motion exercises should be started and weight bearing as can be tolerated should be started to reduce pain and stiffness.  In more severe sprains, more time may be necessary before these activities can be pursued.  Initially, bracing in some form should be considered to support the ankle until adequate rehabilitation can be undertaken to increase ankle strength and range of motion.  Return to full activity in sports will often depend on the severity of the ankle sprain.  In sports that require pivoting and cutting, full return will often take 2-3 weeks with or without ankle taping or bracing to provide support and stability.      

How can it be prevented?  Ankle sprains can be prevented by exercises that focus on ankle strengthening, increasing range of motion and improvement in balance.  Drills that emphasize proper landing from jumping can also help to reduce injuries.  For those people who have had previous ankle sprains, these exercises accompanied by bracing, taping or wearing shoes providing more ankle support can help to minimize the likelihood and severity of future ankle injuries.  

Random useless trivia about Speed Skating: Prior to the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Netherlands holds the lead for most total medals won in Olympic Speed Skating at 82 with Norway coming in second at 80 and the United States rounding out the top three at 67.

CallCallSchedule an AppointmentSchedule


On the recommendation of Microsoft, Internet Explorer is reaching its end of life as a web browser, and will no longer recieve security or feature updates from their development team.

In the interest of giving our users the optimal user experience, we are no longer supporting Internet Explorer 11. To access our site, please use a mobile device, or upgrade to Mircrosoft Edge or Google Chrome.

Call Us: (716) 250-9999