Ankle Sprains

Welcome to Back in Action Physiotherapy, Whistler’s information page on Ankle sprains!!

A sprain

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To Speed Up Recovery treatment is best started as soon as possible.

Correct Diagnosis is critical. Our specialist Sport Physiotherapy Diploma holders at Back in action will provide you with the detailed diagnosis you need to ensure you recover quickly and get ‘back in action’

Guidelines for management:

Immediately Being Using…P – R – I – C – E

Protection – Your ankle may be splinted, taped or braced to prevent further injury. Our Physiotherapists in Whistler’s back in action practice can assist you with the best bracing or taping methods.

Rest – You should rest from all activities that cause pain or limping. Use crutches/cane until you can walk without pain or limping.

Ice – Place a plastic bag with ice on the ankle for 15-20 minutes, 3-5 times a day for the first 24-72 hours. Leave the ice off at least 1 1/2 hours between applications.

Compression – Wrap an elastic bandage from the toes to mid calf, using even pressure. Wear this until swelling decreases. Loosen the wrap if your toes start to turn blue or feel cold.

Elevate – Make sure to elevate the ankle above heart level (hip level is acceptable during class).

To Restore Normal Ankle Function: At Back in Action Physiotherapy, our therapists will design a 4 stage program to get you back to activity and sport.

Range of Motion Exercises – Help you regain normal ankle motion.

Strengthening exercises – Help restore normal muscle strength and prevent re-imjury.

Balance work – The sprain damages the neural proprioception within the ankle that rights us and enables us to balance. It is important to re-train this to enable return to activity and limit the chance of re-injury.

Specific Sports/activity training exercises- tailored to your individual needs.

Some examples of exercises below are provided for information. This is not a specific program but some quidelines as to the type of exercises that may be beneficial in recovering from an ankle sprain.

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To Prevent Re-injury

Continue daily calf and heel stretching, especially after activity (indefinitely)

Continue ankle strengthening 3-4 days per week (indefinitely)

Complete the balance tests and exercises (if needed)

Wear an ankle brace during strenuous activity (indefinitely)


Our Physiotherapists at Back in Action Whistler will ensure to assess your balance and presribe a program appropriate for your level. An ankle sprain can decrease your ability to balance on that foot and makes it easier to roll the ankle again. As soon as you can stand without pain, try the balance tests below. If you can’t balance for ten seconds without wobbling, practice that level every day until you can.

Technique: Balance on your injured foot for 10-30 seconds, do a least 6 repetitions per day.

Goal: Stand 60 seconds without losing your balance, then move to the next level.

Level 1 – Arms out to your side, eyes open

Level 2 – Arms across your chest, eyes open

Level 3 – Arms out to your side, eyes closed

Level 4 – Arms across your chest, eyes closed


Injured ligaments can take many weeks to heal. An ankle brace helps protect the ligaments not only during recovery but also when returning to sport or exercise activities.

Common beliefs:

Bracing can replace strengthening exercises – FALSE! Strong lower leg muscles help provide support to injured ligaments.

Wearing a brace makes an ankle weaker – FALSE, if you continue your strengthening exercises. Plus, a brace can help improve your balance and thus prevent injury.

The most common cause for long term pain after an ankle sprain is poor rehabilitation of a previous ankle sprain. All causes of chronic pain after an ankle sprain should be evaluation by a health professional.

The common causes are of chronic ankle pain are:

* poor rehabilitation

* a fracture that was not initially diagnosed

* congenital abnormality

* post traumatic arthritis

* osteochondritis dissecans (loose bit of bone in the joint)

* sinus tarsi syndrome

* syndesmotic ligament injury or high ankle sprain (this is more complex and is usually assessed for early on.

* More complex injuries involving the chondral or cartilage surface of the bone within the ankle.

* functional instability (a feeling of ‘giving way’)