Recurrent ankle sprains

Recurrent ankle sprains happen when the foot is forced to move beyond a range of motion that is considered normal for the ankle, often occurring when a person lands from jumping or running onto an uneven surface, or falling off the edge of a curb. If the ankle is placed into an abnormal position at the same time, over stretching of the ligaments can occur. The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position, and therefore help to stabilise the ankle joint.

They protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements-especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot. The risk of an ankle sprain is greatest during activities that involve explosive side-to-side motion, such as tennis, squash or basketball, but you can also sprain your ankle during normal daily activities such as stepping off a curb or slipping on ice. If you return to sport or activity before the ligaments have fully healed, they may heal in a stretched position, resulting in less stability at the ankle joint. This can lead to a condition known as Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI), and an increased risk of ankle sprains.

The following factors can contribute to an increased risk of ankle sprains:

  • Weak muscles/tendons that cross the ankle joint, especially the muscles of the lower leg that cross the outside, or lateral aspect of the ankle joint (i.e. peroneal muscles)
  • Weak or lax ligaments that join together the bones of the ankle joint this can be hereditary or due to over stretching of ligaments as a result of repetitive ankle sprains
  • Poor ankle flexibility
  • Lack of warm-up and/or stretching before activity
  • Running on uneven surfaces
  • Shoes with inadequate heel support
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes due to the weak position of the ankle joint with an elevated heel, and a small base of support.