Why Do I Keep Spraining My Ankle?

With every new netball and soccer season comes new, or quite often old, injuries. Lateral ankle sprains (a sprain to the outside of the ankle) are one of the most common injuries, accounting for up to 40% of sporting injuries. Lateral ankle sprains are also notorious for recurrence, with up to 70% of people having a repeat lateral ankle injury or chronic symptoms.

Lateral ankle sprains are caused by rapid plantarflexion and inversion (combined pointing and rolling inwards) causing the outside structures to overstretch and sprain/tear. With good rehabilitation and management these injuries can recover very well.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, lateral ankle injuries are notorious for recurrence and can often lead to long term instability or chronic symptoms. There are various factors that can make someone more at risk for a repeat ankle injury such as:

• Previous ankle sprain
• Increased weight or height
• Impaired balance
• Feeling of instability
• People involved in activities that require frequent running, jumping and cutting motions
• Females
• Foot/ankle mal-alignment

Research shows that instability and joint laxity may still be present at 6 months after injury. With this in mind, in addition to good acute care, a structured long-term rehabilitation program incorporating balance and strengthening exercises is vital. Read James’ excellent blog on improving balance.

Taping or the use of an external brace for additional support may also be helpful in reducing the likelihood of re-injury during the initial 6-month period. However the effectiveness of external supports on inversion injuries is often debated.

Another key component to consider when thinking about recurrent ankle injuries is the impact on surrounding joints. It is not uncommon for ankle injuries to lead to hip or knee pain or joint instability. Two interesting studies from University College Dublin, assessed balance at 6 and 12 months post ankle sprain, that showed reduced balance leading to an increase in stress on the entire limb side, hip, knee and ankle included.

If you have had multiple ankle injuries, or if you want to prevent a recurrence, come in to Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD for an appointment so we can assess and treat your ankle and give you a thorough and effective exercise program!


Chronic ankle sprain and instability treatment – Caring Medical. (2018).
McCriskin, B. (2015). Management and prevention of acute and chronic lateral ankle instability in athletic patient populations. World Journal Of Orthopedics, 6(2), 161. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v6.i2.161
Pourkazemi, F., Hiller, C., Raymond, J., Black, D., Nightingale, E., & Refshauge, K. (2017). Predictors of recurrent sprains after an index lateral ankle sprain: a longitudinal study. Physiotherapy. doi: 10.1016/j.physio.2017.10.004
Tricia Hubbard, T. (2010). Ankle sprain: pathophysiology, predisposing factors, and management strategies. Open Access Journal Of Sports Medicine, 115. doi: 10.2147/oajsm.s9060

Nicole Parker

About Nicole Parker

Nicole completed her Bachelor of Physiotherapy from ACU and has worked exclusively in a Private Practice setting since graduating. Nicole has been involved as a Physiotherapist with various netball teams and has enjoyed the challenge of working with a wide range of patients both on and off the courts. As well as her love of sport, Nicole has a special interest in hr treatment of neck pain and headaches. She has also completed further training in Pilates Matwork from the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute, and plans to continue to expand her Pilates skill set. Nicole loves maintaining an active lifestyle and is a keen traveller.

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