Ankle Sprain

What Is An Ankle Sprain?

An ankle sprain occurs when you roll your ankle, typically towards the outside, resulting in damage to one or more of the ankle ligaments. The most common ligament injured with an ankle sprain is the Anterior Talofibular Ligament (ATFL).


What Causes An Ankle Sprain? What Are Common Symptoms?

An ankle sprain often occurs during a sporting activity, but can also occur when stepping off a curb, walking/running on an unstable surface, or landing from a jump.

An ankle sprain is graded from 1-3 based on the extent of damage to the ligament.


Common symptoms include:

  • Pain on your ankle
  • Swelling and/or bruising at the ankle
  • Feeling unstable to balance on the injured ankle
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How Can Physiotherapy Help My Ankle Sprain?

Your Strive Physiotherapist will perform a detailed assessment to determine the grade of your sprain and rule out the possibility of fracture to the bones of your foot and ankle. Based on this assessment, they will implement the most appropriate initial treatment options to promote the healing of your sprain. Your early treatment will focus on protecting the injured ligament from re-aggravation while creating an optimal environment for the tissue to heal.

Treatment will include regaining full mobility of your ankle, light ankle strengthening exercises, and advice on activity modification. Your physiotherapist will employ manual therapies such as massage to the muscles of the lower leg and joint mobilizations to the bones in the foot and ankle, or modalities such as ultrasound and Acupuncture and Dry Needling.

In later stages, you will be given a tailored exercise program to re-train the balance ability of your foot and ankle, with a focus on return to sport/activity.

How Can Massage Therapy Help My Ankle Sprain?

Massage therapy can help treat your ankle sprain by addressing any tight and sore muscles that develop from compensating for your painful ankle. Your Strive Massage Therapist will work on a broad area of muscles contributing to your symptoms, helping to reduce tightness through the calf and hips that are contributing to your pain.

At Strive we work as a team. Your Strive Massage Therapist will communicate with your Physiotherapist to ensure both members of your team are working together to help you get back to your normal.


How Can Sports Medicine/Physiatry Help My Ankle Sprain?

If your therapist is suspicious that you sustained either a grade 3 sprain, high ankle sprain, or a fracture they will refer you to a Sports Medicine Physician. At Strive, we have Sports Medicine Physicians in house so that you can be seen quickly to help rule out more serious injuries.

Your Sports Medicine Physician is able to order imaging such as an xray to definitively rule in/out any fractures in the foot and ankle from your injury. Depending on the results, your Sports Medicine Physician can then make referrals to an orthopedic surgeon if necessary.

How Long Does It Take To For Me To Recover From My Ankle Sprain?

The length of recovery following an ankle sprain depends on the grade of the sprain.

  • Grade 1: 2-3 weeks
  • Grade 2: 4-6 weeks
  • Grade 3: 3-6months

However, to avoid spraining your ankle again in the future, it is important to stick with your rehabilitation exercises even when your ankle feels better, to ensure you can properly protect your ankle from re-injury.


What Can I Do To Treat An Ankle Sprain At Home?

Avoid doing the things that aggravate your symptoms.

  • For example, if you notice that every time you rise up onto your toes to grab something from the top shelf you get a jolt of pain in your ankle, avoid this movement until it becomes painfree.

If it is swollen, use a tensor bandage or neoprene sleeve to add compression and support to the ankle. Use ice to help manage the swelling and pain. Place a bag of ice, wrapped in a tea-towel, over the swollen area for 10 minutes 2-3 times a day. Make sure never to fall asleep when using ice, because if you leave the ice on for too long, you can give yourself frostbite. Self-massage or foam rolling to the muscles of your calf. Keep your ankle moving!

What Are The Best Exercises To Help With My Ankle Sprain?

Check out the following exercises you can use to recover in the early stages of an ankle sprain. Ankle Sprain Home Exercise Program.

Please keep in mind that these exercises were designed as a place to start to address your symptoms. These exercises should not be performed or continued if they cause or increase your pain in any way. Using these exercises for self-management of your symptoms does not replace the value of being assessed by a Health Professional. If you find you need help, let a Strive Health Professional help you, book your time today!

Written in 2020 by Kiah Brubacher-Cressman, Registered Physiotherapist

Grace Underwood

HBComp (Honours), MSc in Computing, MScPT

Registered Physiotherapist

Grace completed her Master of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. Before physiotherapy school she obtained a Bachelor of Computing with a specialization in biomedical applications and a Master of Science in Computing from Queen’s University. During her Physiotherapy education, Grace enjoyed clinical internships in amputee rehabilitation, paediatric neurosurgical rehabilitation, lung transplant rehabilitation, and several out-patient clinics working with patients following joint replacement and fracture, patients with Long COVID, and WSIB patients.

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