Chiefs-Bengals AFC Championship: How Patrick Mahomes will rehabilitate his injured ankle ahead of Sunday’s game

The Patrick Mahomes legend continues to grow.

the Kansas City ChiefsThe quarterback limped off after an injury in the first quarter Saturday’s elimination round victory, 27-20 Over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Although he appeared to be in a lot of pain, Mahomes returned to the field after an x-ray of his injured ankle came back negative. While he was clearly lacking in mobility, he was able to pull it off—and helped lead Kansas City to its fifth straight AFC Championship game.

The injury appears to be a high ankle sprain, which usually occurs with twisting or rotating – that is, when the foot is planted and turned in relation to the shin. The injury involves damage to Syndromewhich are the high ankle ligaments that connect the bones of the lower leg: buckle and the shin.

This injury usually sidelines a player for several weeks – as we saw with linebacker Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who did not play after suffering a similar injury in Week 11.

Mahomes reportedly underwent an MRI on Sunday, which was said to confirm a suspected high ankle sprain. However, there is little doubt in the fans’ minds that the star midfielder will be ready to wear on Sunday to face off Cincinnati Bengals in the Asian Championship.

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A full week of rehab will be added to Mahomes’ tournament preparation. Let’s take a look at what could be involved.

Mahomes Rehabilitation Week

Because we don’t know the severity of the sprain, the extent of the tissue damage, or the details of how his body will react in the immediate 24-48 hours after the injury, it’s impossible to say the exact timeline for rehabilitation. With reports that the x-rays were negative, we know there were no fractures. That’s why Mahomes was able to come back during the second half on Saturday – and why he can play in the AFC Championship on Sunday.

High ankle sprains (and typical ankle sprains) tend to cause swelling and stiffness – especially in the acute phase. So Mahomes is sure to combat pain and swelling all week long. I’m really starting to manage those issues – and they’ll be a huge factor in how well he’s able to recover before Sunday.

To reduce pain and stiffness – and reduce swelling – the first thing to do will be to maintain and improve your ankle’s range of motion. Everything will be kept as light and pain-free as possible. We can expect Mahomes’ training participation to be limited throughout the week, as too much weight-bearing, cutting or planting will only irritate and inflame the injury.

As the week progresses, Mahomes will move toward specific strengthening exercises for his ankle and leg, likely using an underwater (and/or anti-gravity) treadmill to strengthen the lower leg and ankle and make weight-bearing easier—but without stressing the soft tissues, which could trigger another inflammatory response. .

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Finally, Mahomes will need some career specific football training. Balance and stability training will be used to build confidence in the limb and strengthen the joint. We should also expect him to work on planting his right foot, using some light multi-directional motion exercises to simulate movement inside the pocket.

Photo by Cooper Neal/Getty Images

What can we expect at the Asian Championships?

Players take longer to recover from high ankle sprains than from eversion ankle sprains, which creates a longer timeline for regaining full mobility. Lateral rotation of the tibia will be very uncomfortable. And as we saw with Mahomes during the second half of Saturday, planting, cutting, and running on the injured limb is painful—and therefore limited.

Mahomes won’t be at 100% until Sunday. Given his apparent pain (and lack of movement) during the second half on Saturday, he probably wouldn’t have played if his Super Bowl appearance wasn’t on the line.

So, while it’s hard to know exactly how his ankle will feel on kickoff, it’s possible Mahomes won’t have the mobility; Maintaining the improvisational nature of his play would be difficult.

There’s good news though: Mahomes has made a career out of throwing from uncomfortable, funky, no-weight-bearing platforms. Even in the worst case scenario, he will probably do more than many quarterbacks in similar circumstances.

Kansas City employs one of the best medical and athletic coaching staffs in the league. Mahomes will have all available rehabilitation tools and aids at his disposal. There is reason to trust that, by Sunday, he will have come as far into his recovery as could reasonably be expected.

And, as Mahomes has proven time and time again in his career, he is climax competitor. This injury will likely limit his usual playing style – and, to a certain extent, will change his offensive game plan. But Mahomes will still be… Mahomes.

So while the road to Super Bowl LVII is getting more complicated, the Chiefs’ quarterback should be up to the challenge.

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