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Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains are common and most effect the lateral (the outside of the ankle) ligament. The ankle joint is the second most body part to be injured in sports. Poor rehabilitation after an initial sprain increases the chances of reoccurrences. Some studies have shown as high as a 70% reoccurrence rate in specific sports.

Patients often present with swelling, difficulty fully bearing weight (worse with grade ankle sprains), tenderness, bruising, loss of range of motion and pain. Long-term, patients may lose motor control/coordination with sports-related movements on the effected limb.

Treatment includes:

  • Proprioceptive (the ankle’s awareness of where it is) and balance-focused exercises to address impairments identified on the physical exam to allow safe return to activity/sport and reduce the risk of future sprains.
  • Exercises to include protected active range of motion, stretching to improve ankle mobility/range of motion and strength.
  • Manual therapy to increase ankle range of motion, foot mobility, normal gait parameters and reduce swelling.
  • Strategies to increase weight bearing including review of the usage of supports such as braces, taping or semi-rigid bracing depending on the severity of the injury.
  • Graded return to desired activity or sport.


  1. Martin, Robroy L. et al. “Ankle Stability and Movement Coordination Impairments: Lateral Ankle Ligament Sprains Revision 2021.” Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, Vol. 51, No. 4, 2021, pp. CPG1-CPG80. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT), https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2021.0302.
  2. Yeung, M S et al. “An Epidemiological Survey on Ankle Sprain.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 28, No. 2, 1994, pp. 112-116. BMJ, https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.28.2.112.

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