Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, often occurring during physical activities or sports. While they are widespread, they can also be very painful and recurring if not treated properly. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation process, helping individuals regain strength, mobility, and stability in their ankles.

An ankle sprain involves the stretching or tearing of the ligaments, that attach bone to bone within the ankle. Additionally, it can also cause damage to the tendons surrounding the ankle. This is caused by sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle outside its normal limits. This is typically seen within change-of-direction sports, where the player has rolled it when changing direction or on landing when running or jumping.

Symptoms of an ankle sprain induce pain within the ankle, difficulty weight bearing, decreased ankle range of motion, swelling, and bruising. The extent of these symptoms depends on the severity of the injury and whether there is a sprain or tearing of the structures involved.

Ankle sprains are very common, however, proper management of these injuries is often overlooked. Previous ankle sprains are a risk factor for future injury so a full rehabilitation program, designed by a Physiotherapist must be followed to lower this risk and prevent reinjury.

What to expect from your Physiotherapy session:

Following an ankle injury, it is a great idea to be assessed and get a rehabilitation program from your physiotherapist. A typical session will consist of the following:


Your physiotherapist will gather information about how the injury occurred, where the pain is, and current activities that aggravate the pain. Following this, a detailed assessment will occur looking at your gait, ankle range of motion, muscle strength, function, and a series of special tests to help determine what structures have been injured.

It is also during this time that your physiotherapist will check for any fractures. It is important that this is ruled out prior to beginning rehabilitation as it will likely change how the injury is managed. This is simply done by palpating common bones that are fractured during acute incidents and discussing weight-bearing abilities after the injury.


Depending on the structures injured and the findings of the assessment some hands-on treatment may be utilized to reduce pain and improve function. This may include some soft tissue work, joint mobilizations, and taping techniques.

Rehabilitation Program:

A rehabilitation program will be designed by your physiotherapist based on the type of injury and goals to get back to. Initially, your program will likely consist of range of motion and strengthening exercises as well as balance/proprioception movements. These will be progressed as able based on function and pain, to become more challenging. Once strength is improved and pain reduced return to running and change of direction programs will be implemented. This gradually becomes more challenging before more sports-specific activities are incorporated until the player is able to fully train and return to games. The rehabilitation program needs to closely reflect the sports/activities that are being returned to so the structures are the most prepared for the demands they will be placed under. When returning to sport many players will opt to have their ankles taped or to wear a brace for added support.

Following a program such as this will ensure that the structures surrounding the ankle are strong, able to respond to changes in the environment, and in the best position possible to prevent re-injury.




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