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Written by our Human Movement Specialists

A sprained ankle is when the ligaments, tissue which connects two bones together, are overstretched or tear. The severity (or grade of the ankle sprain) depends on how much damage occurred to the ligament fibers.

Grades of an ankle sprain

Grade 1

Stretch or slight tear with mild tenderness, pain & swelling but the ankle joint feels stable

Grade 2

Partial tear resulting moderate pain and swelling with possible bruising and difficulty weight-bearing.

Grade 3

A full tear resulting severe pain, swelling, bruising and inability to tolerate weight-bearing. This usually requires a trip to your Healthcare Provider to rule out a fracture.

A woman bent down holding her ankle after an ankle sprain

Types of ankle sprains

Running on uneven ground, stepping off a curb, or suddenly changing directions in sports like soccer or basketball are some of the most common ways an an ankle sprain occurs. But not all ankle sprains are the same. There are three different types of ankle sprains, each with their own unique symptoms and treatment options.

Lateral Ankle Sprain

The most common type of ankle sprain is the lateral ankle sprain also known as an inversion sprain. It occurs when the ankle rolls inward, which is where the term "rolled ankle" comes from, and it can cause damage to the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Symptoms of a lateral ankle sprain include pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot.

Medial Ankle Sprain

A medial ankle sprain, otherwise known as an eversion sprain, is less common than the lateral ankle sprain, but still occurs frequently. This type of sprain happens when the ankle rolls outward, causing damage to the ligaments on the inside of the ankle. Symptoms of a medial ankle sprain are the same as a lateral ankle sprain.

High Ankle Sprain

A high ankle sprain, also known as a syndesmotic ankle sprain, is less common than the lateral and medial ankle sprains. This type of sprain occurs when the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones in the lower leg are stretched or torn. Symptoms of a high ankle sprain are the same as medial and lateral ankle sprains however, the recovery time for a high ankle sprain is typically longer.

A woman on the ground with a rolled ankle sprain

Treatment Options

Treatment options for ankle sprains depend on the type and severity of the injury. For lateral and medial ankle sprains, initial treatment typically involves the RICE principle of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Other helpful treatment options include:

Wearing an Ankle Brace

Wearing an ankle brace aligns and supports the ankle joint during activity especially during quick stop & starts or changes in direction as in many sports like soccer or basketball. We have a range of options to fit in all footwear types or in none at all.

Strengthening Exercises

After an ankle sprain the tissue becomes less elastic due to the presence of scar tissue. That lack of stretch can put you at future risk of re‑injury. Strengthen the surrounding muscles by incorporating balance products and/or resistance into your recovery plan.

Improve Your Flexibility

Improving your ankle mobility allows for a greater range of motion during activities making you less susceptible for re‑injury. Shop online or connect with one of our Human Movement Specialists to learn more!


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