Demystifying Lateral Ankle Sprains in Athletes: Insights from a Sports Physiotherapist

Lateral ankle sprains are like uninvited guests at a party – they show up when you least expect them and wreak havoc on your plans. As sports physiotherapists working in a sports medicine clinic, we’ve had our fair share of encounters with these pesky ankle injuries. In this blog post, we’ll take a fun yet informative dive into the world of lateral ankle sprains, exploring their incidence, mechanisms, and rehabilitation strategies through the lens of a physio with a history of more sprains than they can count

Understanding Lateral Ankle Sprains:

Picture this: you’re mid-game, going for that game-winning shot or that crucial tackle, when suddenly, your ankle decides to take a detour and roll inward. Voila! You’ve just experienced a lateral ankle sprain. These sprains often happen during activities involving sudden changes in direction, like playing basketball or trying to impress your friends with your parkour skills. Ankle sprains are like that one friend who’s always fashionably late – you never really know when they’ll show up, but you can bet they’ll make an entrance. Research suggests that ankle sprains account for a significant chunk of sports-related injuries, especially in sports like basketball, soccer, and volleyball [1].

Rehabilitation Strategies:

Now, let’s talk about rehab – the ankle sprain’s arch-nemesis. As sports physiotherapists, our mission is to kick those sprains to the curb and get athletes back on their feet (literally). Initially, it’s all about the PRICE protocol – not the bargain-hunting kind, but Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Think of it as giving your ankle the spa treatment it deserves after a rough day on the court. This is especially important for the first week after injury. Don’t stay too stagnant though, it is important to keep your ankle moving and weight bearing as tolerated.

Then comes the fun part – range of motion and strength training. We’re talking about exercises that make your ankle muscles say, “Oh yeah, I can totally do this!” It’s like taking your ankle to the gym and showing it who’s boss. And let’s not forget about balance and proprioception exercises – because who doesn’t love a good balancing act? Exercises that strengthen the connective tissue and muscles around your ankle help to increase your function and capacity to handle activities of daily living.

And finally, injury prevention – the holy grail of ankle sprain management. We’re talking about educating athletes on proper footwear (no, flip-flops are not suitable for the basketball court), warming up like your life depends on it, and addressing any biomechanical quirks that might be lurking in the shadows. This stage will also include a variety of strength and conditioning exercises like plyometrics and tibialis anterior raises to bulletproof your ankle.


Lateral ankle sprains may be the party crashers of the sports world, but with the right approach, we can show them the door and get athletes back in the game in no time. So, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned pro, remember to return to activities safely by prioritizing injury prevention and seeking timely treatment from a qualified physiotherapist. Our therapy and performance teams here at The Armoury are here to help you and your needs, whatever they are!


[1] Doherty, C., Delahunt, E., Caulfield, B., Hertel, J., Ryan, J., Bleakley, C., & Holden, S. (2014). The incidence and prevalence of ankle sprain injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective epidemiological studies. Sports Medicine, 44(1), 123-140.

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