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"Just an Ankle Sprain" : Sport's most common injury

How many times have you heard someone say "it's just a sprain" only for them to be still limping around in pain weeks later?


Ankles are the most commonly injured joint in sport

Ankle sprains can cause significant pain and leave you incapable of doing your daily tasks, let alone continuing with your sport or exercise regime. 


If you play sport then there's a pretty good chance that you will have a sprained or "rolled ankle" at least once in your life. A 16 year study in the USA concluded that across all sports ankle injuries were the most common. 


More than 200,000 Australian's each year see their GP regarding an ankle injury.

Even if you aren't sporty, ankles can be injured by all sorts of daily activities like tripping on uneven ground, slippery surfaces, high heels or stepping on a toy not properly put away. 




Sprains are injuries to the ligaments that hold our bones together. In the ankle the most common place to get a sprain is on the outside (lateral side) of your ankle. 


Lateral view of ankle

These lateral ligaments are usually injured when the foot is pointing down and then twists inwards - as occurs when you step in a hole unexpectedly causing the ankle to roll over to the outside.  Ligaments are made up of lots of small fibres, and ankle sprains are graded on how many of the fibres are damaged.  Grade 1: Fibres are mostly stretched, might be some small tears.  Grade 2: Some fibres remain intact but a significant portion are torn Grade 3: Complete tear of the ligament More severe injuries will usually take longer to recover. With a Grade 1 you might be back to normal within a couple of weeks whereas Grade 2 & 3 can take many months. Ankle Sprain First Aid You can improve your odds of a speedy recovery by treating your sprained ankle well from the very beginning.  1. Avoiding HARM in the first 48 hours. HARM stands for: - Heat - Alcohol & Anti-inflammatories - Running - Massage 


First Do No Harm!!!!

All of these can increase bleeding in the damaged tissue by increasing blood flow. 2. Make PEACE with your injury: - Protect: By reducing the loading. You might need crutches to take the weight off or some strapping to make it easier to walk.  - Elevate: Get the foot up as much as you can to keep the swelling down - Avoid Anti-inflammatories: We actually want some level of inflammation initially because that is the body's natural way of starting the healing process.  - Compress - usually with a bandage or compressive sock to keep swelling down. - Educate - learn what you need to do to make a good recovery Read our previous blog post on PEACE and LOVE in soft-tissue injuries  Ankle Rehabilitation


Your Physiotherapist can prescribe a specific program for you!


The next step is to get started with some exercises. Usually starting with some gentle ankle movements and muscle activation and following on with strength and balance training. A physiotherapist is the best person to guide you on the exact protocol that is right for you. Ankle sprains can become a recurrent problem, so it is important to get the treatment right and to complete later stage exercises, particularly if you plan on continuing with sports. To book a physio consult with one of our friendly team, please ring reception on (07)31622778

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