Ankle Sprain, Can Physio Help?

What is an ankle sprain?

Ankle sprains are the most common lower-body injury

It usually occurs when the foot twists or turns beyond its normal range of movement

This can cause the ligaments of the ankle to overstretch or tear

Ligaments are the connective tissue that attach from one bone to the other at either side of the ankle

Risk factors

Internal Risk FactorsExternal Risk Factors
AgePlaying Surface
Increased BMIFootwear
Previous Ankle SprainLevel of Activity/Competition
Impairment in Postural BalancePosition of Player in Sport
Psychological Factors 
Muscle Weakness 
Foot Mechanics 

Common Symptoms of ankle sprain

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Throbbing
  • Stiffness
  • Instability
  • Weakness
  • Unable to fully weight bear


Grade I:

  • Ligaments may be overstretched
  • Mild swelling
  • Localised tenderness
  • Healing time: 2-4 weeks

Grade II:

  • Ligaments are overstretched or partially torn
  • Moderate swelling, pain and impact on function
  • Reduced range of motion and stability
  • Healing time: 1-2 months

Grade III:

  • Complete rupture of ligament
  • Significant swelling around the ankle, foot and lower leg
  • High tenderness, loss of function and marked instability
  • Healing time: 3-6 months

Treatment of ankle sprain


  • Reduce load for 1-3 days (this reduces bleeding and prevents further aggravation of the injury)
  • Minimise rest (prolonged rest compromises tissue strength and quality)
  • Optimal Loading: Yes we need to protect the injured areas by not over-stressing the tissues, but still applying healthy loads to the tissues will help stimulate the healing process
  • Let pain guide removal of protection and gradual reloading 


  • Elevate the injured limb higher than the heart

Avoid Anti-inflammatories:

  • This medication may negatively affect long-term tissue healing
  • Optimal soft-tissue healing is heavily supported by the different phases of the body’s natural inflammatory process


  • Swelling may be controlled by external mechanical compression such as taping or bandages
  • However, this should still allow for full range of movement at the joint


Early Mobilisation is Key

  • Gently mobilise your ankle within a comfortable range as soon as possible
  • Walk on the affected foot as soon as you are able without making the pain or swelling worse
  • Normalise your walking as soon as you are able, to avoid compensation

Early Mobilisation Exercises

  1. Ankle circles
  3. Ankle Pumps
  5. Ankle Alphabet
  7. Seated Heel Raise

Further Information

If you have any questions about neck, back, shoulder or elbow pain, or would like to book an appointment to see a physiotherapist, please click here to book. Book Online – Physioflexx Ayrshire

For all enquiries : Contact – Physioflexx Ayrshire on 01560 483200.

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