Ankle Sprain

Ankle Sprain Injuries

About 7 in every 1000 active people will sprain their ankle this year. Most commonly people say they "rolled" their ankle, but what really happens is classified as a sprain. What happens when we roll our ankle is the ligaments that support our ankle get quickly overstretched, resulting in a sprain of those ligaments. There are different levels of sprains ranging from a slight overstretch to a complete tear. Most commonly is what we refer to as a Grade I or Grade II sprain where the ligament is stretched or possibly endures small tears that will eventually heal.

The most commonly sprained ligament in the foot is the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL). This ligament attaches on the outside of our ankle between the fibula and talus bones, hence the name, and normally serves to protect and prevent the foot from excessively rolling inward.

Causes of Ankle Sprains

The most common type of ankle sprain occurs when our foot is plantarflexed and inverted – when our foot is turned inward. This commonly happens when running, playing a sport where we jump and land like basketball or volleyball, or stepping off of a curb or step wrong.

Signs & Symptoms of Ankle Sprains

Common signs of an ankle sprain are the inability to bear weight through the foot, pain deep within the ankle joint, and swelling above, below, or behind the ankle. If the sprain is bad enough, or results in the tearing of a ligament, the surrounding tissue may bruise as well.

How Can I Prevent Ankle Sprains?

Ankle Sprains are one of the toughest injuries to prevent due to their accidental nature when playing a sport. As is the case with many foot and ankle injuries, adequately strengthening your core, hips, and gluteal muscles helps stabilize your entire lower extremity, making it more difficult to sprain your ankle as your body with naturally work to correct any unusual force being placed on the ankle, such as rolling it.


Working with your physical therapist will help address strengthening these regions, as well as, focusing on any mobility asymmetries to prevent further injuries.