Ankle sprains are one of the most common reasons people visit a physiotherapist and are the most common injury at the ankle joint. In this post we will talk about what an ankle sprain is, some basic anatomy, types of ankle sprains and risk factors. By the end of this article you will have a better understanding of what is happening in the body when an ankle sprain occurs, and the importance of prompt, effective rehab. Receiving proper rehabilitation services immediately after an ankle sprain- such as physiotherapy and active rehab- is essential. Research has shown that ineffective and delayed rehab after an ankle sprain increases the risk of a recurring injury and leads to more medical visits related to the ankle.
An ankle sprain is a musculoskeletal injury that occurs when there is a stretch or tear (partial or complete) in the ligaments of the ankle. The ankle moves outside of its normal range of motion, causing the ligaments to be pulled too far and either stretch or tear.
The most common type of ankle sprains are lateral ligament injuries, making up 85% of all ankle sprains. This means that the ligament or ligaments being stretched and/or torn are on the outer side of the ankle. Of the ligaments in the lateral ankle ligament complex, the most commonly damaged ligament is the Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL). The ATFL connects the talus, the bone that comprises the lower part of the ankle joint, to the fibula, one of the shin bones. This type of sprain occurs when the foot is plantar-flexed (the toes are pointed) and the foot is inverted forcefully (the sole of the foot turns inward). Medial and syndesmotic ankle sprains are less common. Medial ligaments (on the inner side of the ankle) are damaged when the foot is pronated forcefully (the sole of the foot turns outward) or when there are rotational movements of the hindfoot. Syndesmotic (high ankle) sprains occur when the leg externally rotates at the same time as the ankle dorsiflexes (toes are pulled up).
Risk factors for ankle sprains include previous sprains, sex, height, foot anatomy, postural sway, weight, and limb dominance. Once a ligament is stretched or torn, it rarely returns to the same level of elasticity and reliance, compromising the strength of the ankle stabilizers. Females have the highest incidence of ankle sprains above men and children. The ankle of the dominant leg has been shown to be 2.4 times more likely to be sprained than the non-dominant leg. Ankle sprains are most common among the athletic population as they often occur during sports and other movement activities.
In conclusion, it is paramount that you receive good rehab services immediately after an ankle sprain to ensure you can recover to the best of your ability, return safely to activity, and decrease the chance of reinjury. To book with the TBC team, email us at email@example.com.
Kiah Loewen, BHK
If you are dealing with an ankle sprain, our expert movement coaches on Stream TBC have resources to support you!
Ankle sprain. Physiopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Ankle_Sprain