The classic ankle sprain and what to expect for your rehab journey

Sprained your ankle and wondering what rehab entails?

If you play sports, work out, run or are simply just clumsy on the dance floor, the chances are you’ve taken a tumble and sprained your ankle at some point. Lateral ankle sprains are the most common injury in sport, and can often take a while to recover from. In this blog, we’re gonna dive into the old sprained ankle and give you some tips of what to do when you have one.

As mentioned, ankle sprains are the most prevalent injury sustained in sport and account for around 15-30% of all injuries. They are also common in everyday activities, particularly in women (or men) who wear high heels. Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that stabilise the ankle joint are stretched beyond its normal motions, causing damage to the ligament and associated swelling and bruising around the joint. Most ankle sprains are sustained to the outer side of the ankle when it is rolled inwards.

Initial management should include the RICE principle, which includes rest, ice, compression and elevation until you’ve seen your physio. It is important to establish the severity of the ankle sprain and rule out the possibility of a fracture before further management is taken. Your physio will guide you through a 3 phase rehab program to get you back on the dance floor.

Phase 1 – appropriate rest to promote healing, swelling management and protecting the ankle.
Phase 2 – restoring range of motion, strength and flexibility.
Phase 3 – gradual return to normal activities and sport specific retraining.

These 3 phases can take anywhere between 2 and 18 weeks to repair, depending on the severity of the injury. Some severe cases may require a second opinion where surgery may be indicated.

Without proper management, sprained ankles can cause long term negative effects including chronic instability, decreased range of motion, reduced strength and persistent pain. Some studies have shown that 80% of people who sustain a lateral ankle sprain are likely to reinjure when there is inadequate rehabilitation or premature return to sport.

Our team of physios are here to ensure you are well prepared to return to sport. To find out more information, book in to see the team at PhysioWest.


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