Sprained ankle

Do you suffer with a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle is a very common injury and involves the sprain, or stretching, of the ligaments of the ankle. It is more common to sprain the ligaments on the outside of the ankle than the ones on the inside as they are more broad and strong.

Common causes

There are three ligaments on the outside of the ankle and one broad ligament on the inside of the ankle. The ligaments on the outside are named according to which bones they are attaching to. A lateral ankle sprain or sprain to the outside of the ankle occurs when the foot rolls underneath the ankle.

There are different degrees of ankle sprain depending on the level of stretch of the ligament.

  • Grade 1: stretching or slight tearing of the ligament. Mild tenderness, swelling and stiffness. Ankle is stable and walking can be done with minimal pain.
  • Grade 2: larger but incomplete tear. Moderate pain, swelling and bruising. Walking is painful and ankle can sometimes feel unstable.
  • Grade 3: Complete tear. Severe swelling and bruising. Ankle is unstable and can feel ‘wobbly’ Walking is usually not possible. There is usually intense pain, however initial pain may be quick to subside.

Many mild grade 1 ankle sprains will improve on their own. However the rate of reinjury is very high once you have rolled your ankle once. Specific rehabilitation should be undertaken to help prevent further injuries.

At Sportsfit Physio and Health our Physios have all the tools to ensure you have a full recovery.


Management is guided by the severity of injury and other associated injury.  A physiotherapist is highly skilled to accurately assess and diagnose this.  They will also be able to determine and give you a referral if you require any further investigations (ie. X-ray).

Acute management (initial 48hours) is aimed at reducing pain and inflammation, and preventing further stress of the injured ligaments.  This should include your RICE management:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

After the acute setting, it is important to abolish any swelling, restore full range of movement, restore strength and balance.  This will aid a return to sport or normal activity quickly and as well as aiming to prevent further injury.

A physio can guide your rehabilitation:

  • In the acute stages provide support (taping, camwalker/moonboot, crutches)
  • Hands-on management (including massage, dry needling, stretching, mobilization)  to help reduce swellling and restore range of movement 
  • Progressive strengthening program
  • Balance and proprioception training
  • Gait, running and jumping re-training


Correct and thorough rehabilitation will ensure you return safely to your chosen activity and prevent future problems with your ankle.

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