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Returning to Sport After an Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is a very common injury. Inversion-type, lateral ligament injuries (when you roll your ankle outwards) represent approximately 85% of all ankle sprains. Unfortunately, less than 50% of individuals seek medical treatment following a lateral ankle sprain, and this contributes to 1/3 of individuals to experience chronic ankle instability and high recurrence rate if this injury.

In the later stages of ankle rehabilitation, your Physiotherapist will take you through a series of functional testing, such as balance, hopping and landing drills. Other functional tests can be done and will be more specific to the individual’s sporting goals and level.

A framework has recently been reviewed and designed to guide clinical decisions for when an individual should return to activity and sports after an acute lateral ankle sprain.

Return to sport decisions after an acute lateral ankle sprain injury: introducing the PAASS framework – Smith et al (2021)

The PAASS framework highlights the significance of addressing all factors that contribute to pain and injury, and that there is not just one perfect test. It is important that together with your Physiotherapist you achieve all physical measurements, address psychological readiness and you are educated in all aspects of the nature of injury. Returning to sport too soon can in fact contribute to higher rates of chronic ankle instability.

Key Points

  • Seek medical and physiotherapy treatment after an ankle sprain

  • Follow initial acute injury management

  • Participate in a specific and progressive ankle rehabilitation program

  • Assess readiness and follow a graded return back to sport and activities

If you have sustained an ankle injury and you are struggling to get back to physical activity, book in with one of our experienced Physiotherapists to discuss a rehabilitation plan. Please call (02) 9436 2565 or book an appointment online.


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