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The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists

Ankle Sprains by Rachel Keane

Ankle Sprains by Rachel Keane

What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain is an injury to a ligament in the ankle.

Ligaments are made of connective tissue, mainly collagen and their role is to connect bone to bone. When a ligament is overstretched this can result in a sprained ankle.


How does this happen? 

It can happen to anyone.


For sportspeople, a common mechanism of injury is a hit into either the inside or outside of the ankle or landing awkwardly after jumping. However, it can happen to anyone by rolling your ankle walking down the street or landing on the outside/inside of your ankle or foot coming down the stairs.

How can this be treated? 

Step 1: POLICE 


P: Protect- the joint from any more damage

OL: Optimal loading- loading the joint as pain allows e.g., walking if able

I: Ice- for 10 mins to reduce swelling and help ease pain

C: Compress- with a bandage to improve circulation to ankle and reduce swelling

E: Elevate- so that the joint is above the level of the heart also helps with circulation and to reduce swelling


Step 2: Restore range of motion and strength

Range of motion 

Gentle stretches of the muscles that surround the ankle joint



-Muscles surrounding the ankle joint

-Other weakness that may increase the likelihood of rolling over on your ankle




Step 3: Proprioception and returning to play 


Proprioception is the body’s awareness of its position in space. This is usually reduced after an ankle sprain and may increase the likelihood of rolling on the ankle again.

Rehab would involve exercises to retrain/ improve the messages your brain sends to the muscles in control of the ankle. These exercises help improve reactivity, joint stability and elasticity.

For sportspeople this can result in overall improvements in performance along with reducing risk of reinjury.


As well as this, as you age, your proprioception naturally starts to decline. These exercises can help slow down age related decline in proprioception reducing risk of falls and helping with overall cognitive function as well as reducing the risk of ankle sprains.


Additional treatments available to help speed up recovery times:

Shockwave therapy: Promotes healing and can help reduce pain

Deep tissue massage:  Promotes healing, improves joint mobility and reduces joint/ muscular stiffness

Joint mobilisations: Reduces joint stiffness and helps to restore range of motion.


by Rachel Keane

If you’ve sprained your ankle, or are having ankle pain, then contact us on 091 569706 to arrange an appointment with a chartered physiotherapist or book online at

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