Ankle Sprains

What does an Ankle Sprain feel like?

An ankle sprain is when you tear one or more of the ligaments which hold your ankle bones in place. The degree of sprain depends on what proportion of the ligament and how many ligaments are torn. Often it will happen when your foot rolls inwards unexpectedly (e.g. when you land awkwardly while playing sport, if you slip on the edge of a pavement or on uneven surfaces).  Often you will feel or hear a pop or clunking sensation. A bad ankle sprain will start to swell immediately, others may take 48 hours to swell, often bruising will also come up at this time.

Ankle sprains can look like this: Ouch!

Ankle sprains

What should I do?


Rest – Stop any weight bearing exercise, limit how much walking you need to do. If you are limping, you may need crutches (your physio can help you with this).

Ice – Ice should be wrapped in a wet cloth and applied to the elevated ankle for 10-20 minutes 1-3 times per day if possible.

Compression – A compression bandage or tubi-grip will help reduced the amount of swelling (which encourages the ankle to heal faster). Compression needs to be quite firm, but comfortable and not restricting blood flow to the foot or ankle. You should not need to wear the compression at night.

Elevation – Elevating the affected limb above the level of the heart allows lymphatic return and reduces the amount of swelling.

Are there any exercises or stretches I can do at home?


1. Calf stretches: If you can comfortably stretch your calf muscle without causing any ankle pain this is an excellent stretch to do.

Early on, often you can stretch with a towel around the ball of your foot, hold the towel with your hands and pull back to straighten the knee and pull the toes back. Do not continue if it hurts your ankle. If the ankle feels ok you should hold for 30 seconds, 1-3 times daily.Calf stretch with towel

Later you can try a standing calf stretch. Position your feet in parallel and keep the heel down on the back foot and lunge forward. You should feel a stretch in the back leg.


2. Calf Strengthening: Try doing heel raises standing with feet hip width apart, hold onto something in front of you, raise and lower your heels slowly, with control. Aim to do 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

Heel raises

3. Balance / proprioception exercises: Balance exercises will improve the reaction times of the muscles around the foot and ankle. Practice standing with two feet in tandem (one directly in front of the other). If this is easy try standing on one leg.

Always stand next to a steady bench to catch yourself if you lose balance.  Aim to have 30 seconds of balancing time.

Should I go to the physio?

Your physiotherapist will assess the severity of your sprain, and can refer you for an x-ray if a fracture is suspected. As a general rule, if the ankle pain is restricting your walking you should see a physio, as often this means that your ankle joint itself is not moving normally and your calf muscle is getting tight. These two things particularly will slow your rate of healing. Your physiotherapist can perform joint mobilisation techniques and massage, amongst other techniques, to help improve your movement.

Any swelling in your ankle will reduce ankle flexibility and proprioception (this is part of your sense of balance which occurs within the ankle itself), hence it is very important to reduce swelling quickly and try to retrain your sense of balance as soon as is comfortable. Your physio can assist you with swelling management and with balance exercises as well as giving you exercises and stretches which are safe to do which will encourage normal movement and healing. These exercises will also improve the strength of the ligament as it heals, so you are better protected against re-injury.

Will I have ongoing problems?

Most people fully recover from ankle sprains, however many that do not seek appropriate treatment are left with a stiff ankle joint, which is one of the highest risk factors for re-spraining your ankle. Your physiotherapist can show you how to monitor ankle stiffness and also how to resolve it. Improving your proprioception (or balance reaction skills) will also reduce your risk of re-spraining your ankle. Your physiotherapist can give you more information on appropriate exercises for prevention of sprains.

Gold Coast Physiotherapy – Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach Physiotherapy Centres 07 5535 5218


Our Response to Covid-19

This page is up to date to our best knowledge, however, this is a rapidly evolving situation so we apologise for any potential delay in updating this information.

We want to reassure all our patients that we are following stringent infection control procedures in our clinic, and screen all people coming into the clinic, to exclude any patients that have any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, as well as screening any patients that should be in isolation ie recently returned from overseas, or have been advised to isolate due to recent exposure with a known Covid-19 patient.

All our staff have now completed the Department of Health Covid-19 Infection Control Training.

What are we doing to minimise risk?

  • Screening patients for risk factors over the phone or through text messages before they attend appointments. Those with risk factors or symptoms are advised not to attend & to seek medical advice.
  • Hand sanitiser station at the front of the building must be used before you enter.
  • Following stringent infection control measures within the clinic. This includes
    • Disinfecting all beds, door handles, EFTPOS machine before and after each patient use.
    • Linen changed between each patient and commonly touched surfaces through the practice are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Minimising the distances between clients in the waiting room- some chairs are outside undercover.
  • We have advised our team members not to come to work if they have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • We are following all Department of Health recommendations for our type of business.

On the 30th March 2020 – the Australian government issued a statement that “People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.”

The decision to come in for physiotherapy treatment really is an individual one – if you feel that your treatment is medically necessary, and are comfortable with the risks of leaving your home and coming to physiotherapy, then rest assured that when you attend our physiotherapy clinic, we are following our strict infection control processes and doing everything we can to minimise your risk whilst in our care. However, we completely understand if you are not comfortable with coming in for treatment.

TELEHealth Consultations

We are offering telehealth consults and home visits (where suitable) for patients who cannot attend our clinic.

Read more about TELEhealth Consultations here.

Staying Healthy

  • Wash your hands often (and for 20 seconds) with soap and water
  • Cough into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Social distancing practices – Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching, including shaking hands
  • Limit contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick and encourage employees to stay home when sick
  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to help your immune system stay strong
Please stay safe and take care of each other!

We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make adjustments to our business as we are further informed. Our priority is the health & well being of our patients and our staff. Thanks for your understanding.

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