The Ankle Sprain

Major Injuries in Female Athletes Part 2 – The Ankle Sprain

Continuing the theme of lower limb ligament injuries in female athletes next up is the ankle sprain.

Damage to the ATFL or CF ligaments of the ankle (ankle sprain) is the single most common injury in female sport and the most common cause of prolonged  absence in young athletes (< 15 yrs old). Most studies looking at injury prevalence in female team based sports report that ankle sprains account for nearly I in 5 of all injuries big or small. The ATFL and CF ligaments, on the outside of your ankle are some of the main stabilisers of the joint. Ankle injuries can be divided into three types depending on severity: grade one (small tear), grade two (partial tear) or grade three (complete rupture).

Initially management of the injury is to reduce pain, swelling and restore movement. The POLICE principal can be helpful here: Protect, Optimum loading, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. 

Rehabilitation is necessary to prevent chronic ankle problems, especially in grade two and three injuries. At first, rehabilitation exercises may involve active range of motion or controlled movements of the ankle joint without resistance. Water exercises may be used if land-based strengthening exercises, such as toe-raising, are too painful. Lower extremity exercises and endurance activities are added as tolerated.

Proprioception training is very important, as poor proprioception is a major cause of repeat sprains and an unstable ankle joint. The goal is to increase strength and range of motion as balance improves over time. The key to returning to play and preventing further ankle injury is a dynamic and progressive rehab programme. Once you are pain-free, have sufficient strength, balance and full range of motion other exercises may be added, such as agility drills.

For a better look check out the rehab video. 

Catherine Simpson MISCP MSc. Sports Medicine


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