ankle injury

It is important in any injury to have an understanding of how to deal with it, otherwise how are you meant to begin recovering from a sports ankle injury? It is your body, your ankle injury, your problem, so get to work! But where do I start I hear you ask? Well I’m going to try and help you with that. I think the common ankle sprain will be a good place to begin.

So, here are some quick fire facts about ankle sprains:

  • Most common orthopaedic injury
  • 5,600 incidences a day in the UK
  • More than 80% from inward rolling
  • 40% misdiagnosed or poorly treated

Now we know how common this pesky injury is, we need to look at the risk factors – knowledge is power after all!

Many sources of information repeat the same factors, ‘associated with running, jumping, twisting, change of direction’ so…everything in sport – better stop now then.

Ankle sprains can happen anytime in life, regardless of your recreational activities and in all honesty I’d much rather say ‘I sprained my ankle during a crunching tackle’ than simply ‘crossing the street’.

Sometimes it’s just going to happen, but to give yourself the best chance a little pre-hab work won’t hurt – unless you start kicking medicine balls around, then that’s a bit too much. Some simple range of motion and balance exercises will get you started, check these websites out for some further info and

I’ve just turned my ankle, help!

Hopefully with the correct prehab you won’t get to this stage, but unfortunately it happens. As I said earlier, 40% of ankle sprains are misdiagnosed or poorly treated which can lead to long term disabling complications such as the dreaded chronic ankle instability – this highlights the importance of education.


Look familiar? The common symptoms of an ankle sprain are:

  • Pain or soreness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty walking
  • Stiffness in the joint

These symptoms may vary in intensity depending on the severity. Before you go assuming that it’s a sprain it’s very important to keep in mind that it could be something more serious – my ankle can account for that.

If you cannot put any weight on it at all, are screaming in pain when the bone is touched, or in my experience a feeling of caught in a vice, please go to A+E. The wait times aren’t always long – I promise.

Don’t be the one to just ignore it and hope for the best, you could be doing some serious damage and prolong your recovery.

How long until I can play again?

‘I have a game in two weeks, my team need me’ I know it’s hard but please get these thoughts out of your head – It will torture you. The important thing now is you and your injury, this is the time when you are allowed to be selfish. If you go putting pressure on yourself you will do anything to reach your goal regardless of your recovery. I have seen so many people re-injure themselves because of pressure – don’t be that person.

The common time frames associated with ankle sprains are anywhere from a couple of weeks to a number of months depending on severity.

It is important to accept your time frame but remember this is based on averages, everyone heals differently.

The only person who can change it is you, so stop feeling sorry for yourself – get out that wobble cushion and squat damn it!

Let the battle begin

Ok, so you’ve been to A+E and it’s not broken thankfully, but your ligaments have decided to have a right good stretch – splendid!

Your ankle is likely to have some lovely colour and resemble a balloon, but this time it’s not fun. Immediate treatment is vital and has a big influence on your recovery, initially the most import thing is rest – sounds pretty simple but most people can’t do it. Now you can probably guess where I’m going with this, one of the most common injury treatment acronyms – RICE Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation

Most people know of it but still don’t do it.  It is without doubt one of the most effective initial treatments for ankle sprains. So please follow the RICE protocol and put your feet up for once – literally!

The balloon has deflated – next step?

Once the swelling and pain is under control it is important to keep working and get some help. A sprained ankle can increase your risk of re-injury as much as 40-70%, but the correct rehab significantly decreases the risk.

‘Three weeks for an NHS physio appointment, you’ve got to be kidding me, healing will be well under way by then. The collagen will already have started building my indestructible new ligament.’ Unfortunately it is quite common to have to wait for an appointment, they have to look after a lot of people after all. I know it can be expensive but I would highly recommend going to see a sports therapist or physio privately – it will make a big difference.

If you can’t do worry there are plenty of things you can do yourself. Following the RICE protocol, it is important not to rest too long, you need to start being active.

Please remember not to overdo it, you have come too far to blow it now. The activity you do should never be painful, there may be discomfort but you should never push it to the point of pain.

The four things to work on during the rehab process are:

  • Mobility
  • Proprioception
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening

Check out these websites for some helpful info: and

Is it time to put the boots back on?

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – get those pungent boots/skates out of the cupboard.

Once you have gone through the rehab process without any major problems it is important to ease yourself back into sport. Starting with some sports specific exercise, working towards training and game play.

Keep in mind that although you have recovered and may feel invincible – unfortunately you’re not, so take it easy!

Some people like to rely on support when returning to play, but in my opinion protection is good but you still need mobility – your muscles are there to do the work aren’t they?!

I guess people have their preferences and it is what works best for you that is important. I hope this blog has given you some insight and a place to start on your road to recovery.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment.

Amy ☺

Physio Blog - by Amy Brown

As well as skating for Newcastle Roller Girls, Amy is also a sports therapist and has a keen interest in most sports. She has worked in various settings including professional football, women’s premiership rugby, 2012 Olympics and superleague netball. Having undertaken a range of postgraduate training, Amy is also a Kinesio taping practitioner and member of the Society of Sports Therapists.

Alongside providing injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation within sport she also works in private clinics treating both athletes and the general public.

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