How most people sprain an ankle (and how to avoid it)

A sprained ankle is a common injury and can happen while playing sport, or just walking down the street. It’s easy to do, but what can you do to reduce the risk? Find out here.

October 12, 2021

A sprain happens when a ligament (tissue that connects your bone to the joint) is overstretched. This can damage the ligament which can cause pain and reduce function.  

It can be a little tricky to know whether you have an ankle sprain, but if you feel pain or tenderness on or near your ankle, experience swelling or bruising, or feel uncomfortable standing or walking, there’s a good chance you have a sprain – and you should seek professional advice.

Common causes of ankle sprains include:

  • Falls which cause your ankle to roll or twist.
  • Walking or running on an uneven surface.
  • Landing on your foot awkwardly after a jump or turn.
  • Someone else landing or stepping on your foot during sport.
  • Playing sports which include jumping, pivoting (such as in netball) or twisting movements.  
  • Shoes! High heels are often the culprit when it comes to ankle sprains, along with shoes which aren’t appropriate (such as hiking in running shoes) and shoes that don’t fit properly.  
  • Previous ankle injuries. If you’ve previously sprained your ankle, you are more likely to sprain it again.
  • Poor ankle strength and flexibility can also increase your risk.

If you have good strength, flexibility, and balance, you are less likely to suffer an ankle strain or reinjury from a previous sprain. One way to make improvements is to see your local physiotherapist, who can devise and exercise program specifically for you, to reduce your risk.