What is a lateral ankle sprain?
Commonly known as an ankle sprain, this occurs when the foot lands in an inverted position and damages the lateral structures of the ankle (see below). This is the opposite of a medial ankle sprain, when the foot lands in an everted position (Inward). The lateral structure of the ankle contains the anterior talofibular ligament, posterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament and is not well supported muscularly.
Understanding the risk factors for ankle sprains allows us to prepare and design programs necessary for athletes and more sedentary folks alike. There is a small disparity of ankle sprains between male and female, with females sustaining 25% more grade 1 ankle sprains than males. There was no difference between groups for grade 2 and 3 sprains. Interestingly, foot type is not a predisposing factor for sustaining a lateral ankle sprain, however foot width has been shown to increase risk for lateral ankle sprain due to the large lever arm during an inversion motion.
The use of taping and bracing has been shown to decrease the risk for lateral ankle sprains and reduce re-injury rate. Multiple studies have been performed that detail the effects of bracing and taping that continue to prove this. Contained in these studies are the use of functional stability training to improve dynamic support, which showed similar benefit to bracing and tape.
The lateral ankle is poorly supported which creates a predisposition for injury and there are multiple risk factors for sustaining a sprain. Lateral ankle sprains are the most common injury among athletes and whether you have sustained this injury in a game or walking your dog, there are methods to help reduce pain, inflammation, and restore full functionality of the ankle following injury to reduce the risk for re-injuries. If you are in the Mission Viejo area and think you, or someone you know, might benefit from physical therapy, please don’t hesitate to reach out!