Ankle Sprain: Understanding, Preventing and treating common injuries.

With the arrival of warmer weather, we are seeing our clients embracing the great outdoors, eagerly participating in a variety of activities including park runs, local running events and recreational sports. However, with these activities, and at times, lack of preparation, comes the risk of ankle sprains, one of the most prevalent, foot and ankle injuries.

In this blog post, we will discuss the anatomy of the ankle, explore the causes and symptoms of ankle sprains, discuss diagnosis and rehabilitation strategies, and offer type on preventing re-injury.

Ankle sprains are more common in active people, the most common type of ankle sprain is that of the lateral (outside) ligaments, this makes up 85% of all ankle sprains.

Risk factors for a lateral ankle sprain include, previous history of sprain, females are at higher risk than that of males, height, weight, and limb dominance.

Anatomy and Function of the Ankle

The lateral ankle it is made up of three major supporting structures; Anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), Posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL) and the calcaneofibular ligament (CFL).

The most frequently damaged ligament is the anterior talofibular ligament. It is usually injured when the foot is plantarflexed with forceful inversion or inward rolling of the foot.

Signs and symptoms of Ankle Sprain

The severity of ankle sprain can vary, but common signs include pain, tenderness, limited range of motion, bruising or swelling.

Diagnosis and Rehabilitation

When you present to your physiotherapist, they will determine the severity of your injury. Through various testing they will determine the grade of sprain and rule out any serious pathologies or likelihood of a fractures, which may require further examination.

Key Elements of rehabilitation

The severity of the injury will determine the treatment type during the early phase, this may involve bracing, modifications to daily tasks, and a tailored rehabilitation program. Research shows that functional treatment, which promotes early mobility significantly improves the rate of return to sport or work, when compared to immobilisation or inactivity.

Key Elements of Rehabilitation:

  1. Reduction of pain and swelling through relative rest, easy walking, low level exercises and possible brace (as advised)
  2. Range of movement exercises: slow movement of ankle joint within a pain free range
  3. Stretching
  4. Manual therapy: Used to promote lymphatic drainage, soft tissue mobilisation, and joint mobilisation.
  5. Proprioceptive and balance exercise: These exercises to enhance dynamic stability and reduce risk of re-injury
  6. Strength training: Exercises to target strength of the hip, knee and ankle joint.
  7. Foot intrinsic exercises:

When to seek professional Help

Physiotherapy is there is assist you from day 1 of injury to your gradual return to activity. If persistent ankle issues persist, it is recommended to consult with a physiotherapist for a personalised treatment plan and rehabilitation guidance.

Preventing ankle re-injury

Maintaining strength and the hip knee and ankles is crucial. Regular calf stretching, mobility drills of the ankle joint and incorporating balance exercise can also help prevent re-injury.

Understanding ankle sprains, their causes and appropriate rehabilitation strategies are importance for a successful recovery. Working closely with a physiotherapist and adhering to a comprehensive rehabilitation program can overcome ankle sprains and reduce the risk of re-injury, allowing you to full enjoy your outdoor activities. Your physiotherapist is there to support you throughout the entire journey, from the early stages of injury to your gradual return to normal activities.



Ankle Stability and Movement Coordination Impairments: Lateral Ankle Ligament Sprains Revision
Robroy L. Martin, Todd E. Davenport, John J. Fraser, Jenna Sawdon-Bea, Christopher R. Carcia, Lindsay A. Carroll, Benjamin R. Kivlan, and Dominic Carreira
Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2021 51:4, CPG1-CPG80