Returning To Sport After An Ankle injury


How do I know when it’s okay to return to sport?


Knowing when to return to sport following an ankle injury can always be a bit tricky. The chance of reinjuring your ankle is always going to be higher than before, so it’s important to ensure that you are ready. A big mistake that a lot of people make is returning to sport once there is no more pain, but most of the time this is still too early.


When assessing if someone is ready to return to sport, there are a few things that we look for. The first thing that we assess is to see if someone’s muscle strength and power is within 10% of their injured side. We commonly assess this by testing if someone can perform a single leg hop and achieve a similar distance to their uninjured side. We also assess if the landing is controlled and stable.


The next test that we normally assess is the triple hop. This involves hopping three times in a row, and the usual return to sport criteria is to achieve within 10% of the same distance of the uninjured side.


We also assess for balance and proprioception (the body’s ability to sense joint position) which are both vital to avoid reinjury following an ankle injury. There are a number of tests that we use to assess balance and proprioception, and a common test that we use is the Y-balance test. This involves balancing on one leg and attempting to tap as far forward, and behind to the left and right without losing one’s balance. Similar to the previous tests, the most valid return to sport criteria is to be able to reach within 10% of the uninsured side.

Although a simple ankle injury may seem to be resolved, it’s important to clear the above return to sport criteria to avoid a reinjury, which may mean that you’ll need more time off. If you’ve recently experienced an ankle injury and are unsure if you are ready for sport yet, make sure to book in with one of our physios who will help guide you towards performing at your best!


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