‘Ankle Sprain - an Injury that is by far too Frequent’

An ankle inversion sprain is trauma to the outside of the ankle joint that is very common is GAA, Soccer and many other team sports. Indeed it is common to occur in occupations such as farming that involves walking on rough terrain. The injury involves the ankle rolling excessively inwards causing injury to the ligament that joins the talus bone to the Fibula bone (see illustration). This ligament is known as the Anterior TaloFibular Ligament (ATFL). It can suffer 3 grades of injury, Grade 1 being a strain, grade 2 being a tear, grade 3 being a significant to complete rupture of the ligament. The calcaneofibular ligament can also suffer injury in a grade 2 and grade 3 ankle Inversion Sprain.

What causes a sprain or injury to outside ankle Joint?

  • When landing on a single leg from a Jump position, the landing foot can roll too far inwards causing overstress and injury to the ligaments whose role is to prevent such excessive movement.

  • Walking on uneven surfaces can cause excessive rolling inwards of the foot.

  • Twisting and cutting movements at speed during running can excessive inwards ankle inversion movement.

What makes an athlete a risk of suffering a lateral ankle sprain?

  • A previous ankle sprain – a high percentage of people who suffer an ankle sprain suffer re-injury to the same ankle.

  • Restricted dorsiflexion movement – which means that the movement that involves bending the ankle towards the shin bone is restricted.

  • Weak quadriceps / thigh muscles – if the inside quadriceps is weak it places extra pressure on the calf muscles during running or walking which restricts ankle dorsiflexion movement.

  • Poor Core Stability – this means that the abdominals muscles, lower spine muscles and glutes are not helping to stabilise the pelvis during dynamic movement such as jumping, running & sprinting.

  • Poor balance ability in both the ankle joint and in the Hip and pelvic area

  • The knee displays a valgus stress angle which means that the knee joint angles inwards abnormally during walking and running causing dysfunction leading to over compensation in the ankle in an attempt to correctly align the body.

Next week, I will discuss ways to manage and help prevent this injury from re-occuring.

Tomás Ryan is a Registered Physical Therapist with The Irish Association of Physical Therapy(MIAPT) and is based in Thurles. Contact Number: 0504 26672.

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Physiotherapy & Injury Rehabilitation Clinic in Tipperary

0504 26672


The Surgery, Fianna Road, Thurles


Riverside Medical Centre, 7 Upper

Irishtown, Clonmel

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