How to avoid and treat ankle injuries | Arlie Atkinson

With sports back in full swing, it is important to recognise the increased risk of injury after a break.

During these winter months, football and netball are two of the most popular sports played and both have a high prevalence of ankle injuries, especially ankle sprains.

We’re exploring the correct way to treat an ankle sprain plus ways to reduce the risk of these injuries occurring.

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Ankle sprains can occur in one of two ways

  • Eversion sprain (which is the most commonly presented form)
  • Inversion sprain

The main purpose of the ligaments around the ankle is to provide ankle, so when these movements happen and weight is applied through the foot, ligaments can partially tear or rupture – known as an ankle sprain.

Common signs can include

  • Only being able to partially weight-bear
  • Tenderness or pain
  • Bruising or swelling around the ankle joint

Avoiding ankle injuries

In order to avoid these injuries, it is important to take a number of simple steps before stepping onto the court or field.

  1. Ensure you have appropriate footwear with arch support and a stable heel counter (back of the shoe).
  2. Undertake a sport-specific warm-up including going through the range of moments at the ankle.
  3. Complete regular exercises to increase the strength of the muscles around your ankles as well as your balance – some examples of exercises are included in the image.
  4. If you have had ankle injuries before, speak to a physiotherapist about other ways to manage and prevent further injury which could include the use of braces or ankle taping.

If you injure your ankle

If an ankle sprain occurs, it is important to take immediate action by using the RICE protocol during the inflammatory phase (first 1-4 days).

  • Rest: Try to avoid weight-bearing for the first 24 hours and allow for the ankle joint to be de-loaded to reduce any further stress.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack to the area for 15-20 minutes, preferably 3 times per day.
  • Compression: Apply a compression bandage to the ankle to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevate the ankle above the line of your heart to further encourage a decrease in swelling.

It is also important to book a consult with one of our physiotherapists here at Healthy Mates in order for you to be instructed on further rehabilitation exercises and advice to ensure maximal healing as well as prevent the injury from occurring again!