Ankle Sprains: Injury Fact Sheet

Ankle injuries are not reserved for dancers with two left feet or football players, despite ankle injuries being common among these sports. The ankle services as a foundation, shock absorber, and propulsion engine. But even though the ankle and foot can sustain enormous pressure, provide flexibility, and resiliency, injuries can occur. 

ankle injury

How do ankle injuries happen?

Ankle injuries usually involve a sudden unexpected loss of balance that results in a sharp twist of the ankle where the foot turns in or out. There are a number of common injury types including Achilles tears, stress fractures, and ankle sprains. 

An ankle sprain occurs when the strong connective tissue that connects one bone to another (ligaments) are overstretched and damaged. 


What should I do to help my ankle recover quickly?

Right away: 0-72 hours after injury – reduce excessive inflammation by following the RICED rule:

    • Rest your ankle by reducing your activity as much as possible for the first 72 hours.
    • Ice the injured area for 20mins every two hours.  Wrap ice in a damp cloth to prevent ice burn.
    • Compress – use a compression bandage or tubigrip over your ankle, foot and lower leg.
    • Elevate your ankle to help reduce swelling – sit or lie down with your foot up on a support.
    • Diagnose – seek an accurate diagnosis and advice from a physiotherapist or your GP.
  • One to three days – if your sprain is mild, your therapist may suggest that you start trying to use your ankle again as much as is comfortable.
  • Three days to three weeks – with advice from your physiotherapist, gradually increase your weight-bearing and activity levels.  You will be given exercises to improve your balance, strength and flexibility.  These will help your recovery and reduce the chance of spraining your ankle again.


How long will it take for my ankle to recover?

It’s natural to want to get back to normal as fast as possible. “How long will it take?” does depend on you, the situation, and the severity of your injury. In some cases you can return to sport or work within 2 weeks, in severe cases it can be months. We’ve put together a guideline of expectations for you.


1 Minor tear, minimal pain.

Little or no joint instability, mild pain on weight-bearing.

Slight loss of balance

2-3 weeks
2 Some tearing of ligaments, swelling.

Moderate to severe pain.

Moderate instability, poor balance

3-6 weeks
3 Complete tear, severe swelling.

Gross instability, poor balance.

3-6 Months

Consult your physiotherapist if you are unsure about when to return to sport or other activities.


If you want to know more about how Proactive 4 Health can help with your rehabilitation, Book your appointment today or give us a call. We’ll help you get things moving how they should, faster and safer.

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