Ankle Sprain. What is it?

An ankle sprain is a common injury that occurs when the ankle rolls inwards and causes an overstretching and possible tear of the ligaments that support the ankle.

How does it happen?

This can happen as a result of contact in sports, landing from a jump, quickly changing directions, or moving on unstable surfaces. The severity of the injury will depend on how much damage the ligaments sustain.

What you could feel

You may notice immediate swelling of the ankle, pain on both sides of the ankle, instability, reduced ankle range of motion, and bruising. It is important in this early stage to reduce swelling which has positive effects on recovery and ankle mobility. The communication between the ankle and the brain is also compromised due to the trauma and will require rehab to re-establish this connection and reduce recurrent ankle sprains.

What to do next?

Firstly, it is important to rule out a possible fracture of the ankle through an X-ray which should be done If there is an inability to weight bear 4 steps immediately after the incident and the presence of bony tenderness – the likelihood of a fracture, if you can bear weight immediately is low.

PEACE‘ and ‘LOVE‘ is the new pneumonic that facilitates an active recovery

Protection from aggravating activities, taping by your physio
Elevation of ankle above heart level as often as possible
Avoid Anti-inflammatories and icing as they can reduce tissue healing
Compression to reduce swelling
Education – facilitated by a physiotherapist

Load ankle as tolerable
Optimism – be confident and positive!
Vascularisation – low-impact exercises (e.g. cycling) to improve nutrient delivery from increased blood flow
Exercise – regain mobility, strength, and proprioception

Should you train with an ankle sprain?

Training with a sprained ankle is possible but must be done correctly. Taping/bracing is necessary to avoid making the ankle sprain worse. Training lightly and avoiding higher-risk moves like pivoting on the foot and takedowns is important to avoid a more severe injury like an ACL. Strength, conditioning, and stability exercises are essential for optimal performance and reducing the risk of future injuries (both of the ankle and further up the kinetic chain).

How can physiotherapy help?

A physiotherapist can diagnose and assess the severity of your injury, assist with acute management of pain and swelling, and address any other concerns. The provision of an individualised program to facilitate your return to functional activities, sports, and/or life in the short and long term is also a key part of our treatment.

Our goal is to provide you with the most up-to-date evidence-based treatment and reduce the likelihood of subsequent sprains so that you can stay injury-free and participate at your best for a longer:

  • Calf raise progression
  • Lateral hops
  • Balance
  • Ankle mobility

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