Sprained / ‘Twisted’ Ankle

An extremely common type of sports-related injury is a sprained or ‘twisted’ ankle. Ordinarily this kind of sprain occurs when the foot twists and rolls to the outside, causing the supporting ligaments on the outside of the ankle to sprain ie. Stretch. The injury will usually cause swelling of the area, a throbbing pain and bruising.


As with most injuries, the severity of each individual case can vary.

A mild sprain can simply stretch the ligaments, as is often the case with joggers. The ligaments are not torn, and while this is painful and uncomfortable, it is considered to be a mild sprain.

A moderate sprain communicates a certain amount of tearing of the ligaments. This might happen when a considerable amount of force or weight is applied when the ‘twist’ occurs. This may be when an athletes lunges onto a foot which is badly planted, causing the fibres in the ligament to tear. This is classed as a moderate sprain.

A severe sprain indicates that most or all of the fibres of the ligament have torn. This may be caused by an excessive weight on the turned ankle which twists and forces the ligament to tear.

Could the ankle be broken?

Due to the fact that the ankle twists awkwardly when it undergoes the ‘strain’, it is possible to break the ankle. If you can bear weight on the ankle after the sprain, it is probably not broken. However, if there is pain on the inside of the ankle it is advisable to have an x-ray to rule out the possibility of a fracture.


The immediate treatment for any kind of sprain is:

  • Rest – stay off the ankle as much as possible, try not to put any weight onto the injured foot in order to avoid further damage.
  • Ice – Use ice-packs or anything frozen around the bruised and swollen areas of the injured ankle. This will reduce swelling and may help to soothe discomfort.
  • Elevation and Compression –rest the ankle on a cushioned chair or similar so that it is raised. This will help to reduce swelling.

When tolerable:

  • Strengthening and range-of-motion exercises - In order to combat stiffness and help mobility, it is advisable to gently exercise the ankle.

What kind of exercises will help?

  • When sitting, cross the injured leg over the other leg at the knee. Holding the big toe still and using it as a guide, trace the letters of the alphabet, making sure all motion comes from the ankle. Repeat hourly if possible. The letters will gradually become larger and movement easier.
  • To strengthen the ankle, a light kicking motion in water helps to improve mobility due to the resistance of the water. Use a float to support your body while you concentrate on gently exercising your ankle.
  • An important facet of ankle recovery is balance training. In order to do this, practice balancing on one foot. You may need a wall or chair for support at first, but try to then balance with your arms outstretched, without swaying.

What else can I do?

In order to aid rehabilitation, you may also wish to wear an ankle support to add stability to the injured area while you are healing.

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