Sprained Ankle’s are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries. They can happen to everyone – whether you’re athletic or not.

It occurs when the ankle joint twists either inwards or outwards on landing.

Ankle injuries most commonly occur in sports requiring jumping, turning, twisting, and changing direction type movements. In most cases (80%) of people sprain the ankle by rolling it to the outside – which damages the lateral ligaments. This can easily happen simply by stepping on uneven surfaces and losing your balance. 

Sprained Ankle


The ankle joint is a hinge joint formed between the shin bones (tibia and fibula) and the talus (the bone at the top of the foot). 

Sprained Ankle

Lateral Stabilisers: 

The joints are stabilised by a few ligaments on the outside of the ankle. These ligaments are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL), calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) and the posterior talofibular ligament (PTFL). Out of these 2 ligaments, the ATFL is the most sprained ligament of the ankle, accounting for more than 80% of all ankle sprains.   

Medial Stabilisers: 

The deltoid ligament consists of four bands – it’s a lot stronger and not as commonly sprained. However, if sprained the recovery is a lot more serious with a slower recovery timeframe.

Deltoid ligament sprains are an uncommon type of ankle sprain. A strain or tear of the deltoid ligament results from rolling your ankle inward (pronation). They account for 15% of ankle sprains.

Signs of an Ankle Sprain

The signs of an ankle sprain are very similar to that of a fracture. The management of an ankle fracture versus an ankle sprain is entirely different, which is why it is important that the ankle is evaluated by a physio as soon as possible. Some of the signs include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inability to walk or weight bear on the injured ankle 
  • Stiffness 

Grading of Ankle Sprains

Sprains are graded on a scale of 1 to 3 (mild, moderate, and severe).

Management of a Sprain Ankle – Ice or Not? 

RICE (Rest, ice, compression, and elevation) has been the standard of treatment for injuries for the last decade. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who sprains their ankle and doesn’t immediately stick an ice pack on it.

However, in recent years the RICE approach, particularly the icing component, has been challenged throughout medical literature. 

While icing after an injury is generally used to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, inflammation is a normal component of the healing process. It is not uncommon for inflammation to last for several hours to many weeks following a serious injury.

Therefore, the concerned that using ice to block the normal physiological process during this time may result in delayed healing. Icing acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning the blood vessels to the area reduce in size, thereby reducing blood flow. Blood flow to an injured area helps to facilitate the healing.

Additionally, there have been studies that have shown the vasoconstriction from icing remains for extended periods of time, meaning that this lack of blood flow occurs for longer than just the time that the ice is applied.

A newer study, published in May 2021, investigated whether icing had any effect on pain intensity, swelling, or range of motion after acute ankle sprains.

The overall take-away was that there was no improvement on swelling, pain, or range of motion when compared with exercise alone.

Considering this, the management of a sprained ankle now aims to restore range and function as soon as possible through rehab and strength work. Pending on the grade of the injury, the timeline of recovery will differ and influence the exercise choices. 

Want To Know More

If you would like to know more about this topic, have sprained your ankle or have a Physio related issues in general, we’d recommend booking a session with one of our team, such as Lael Kassem who wrote this article.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

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