A 15 years old boy presents with a recent right lateral ankle sprain from landing on someone’s foot and rolled inwards during basketball. What should he do to facilitate return to sports?


Clinical examination

In observation, the patient has mild lateral ankle swelling but no bruises. He is able to walk without pain. Symptoms are provoked during eversion and lunging. His anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) is tender on palpation. Ligament stability tests (anterior and posterior drawer tests) are negative.

The examination findings suggest that he has a low grade right ATFL sprain.



A combination of education, RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) approach will be appropriate to manage his acute symptoms. In this scenario, his symptoms are able to further reduce with joint mobilisation and strapping. 

Over the next two weeks, he is able to gradually progress his exercises from range of movement exercises to proprioception and strengthening exercises, specifically single leg balance and single leg heel raise. He was able to perform thirty repetitions in single leg heel raise which is clinically indicative for exercise progression and trial return to modified sports. 

It is indicated from research that the reinjuring rate after the first ankle sprain within the first year is remarkably high, up to eighty per cent. It is also suggested that proprioceptive (balance) and ankle strengthening exercises will significantly reduce the risk of recurrence, and the exercises program should at least last up to two months. It is important to be aware that free of symptoms and ‘feeling good’ do not always mean the ankle function is fully recovered.


If you have any questions regarding ankle sprain and ankle braces, and need an assessment, please give us a call at (02) 8411 2050. Here at Thornleigh Performance Physiotherapy, we can give you an accurate diagnosis and treatment, to help you get back in action as soon as possible. We are conveniently located near Beecroft, Cherrybrook, Hornsby, Normanhurst, Pennant Hills, Waitara, Wahroonga, Westleigh, West Pennant Hills, and West Pymble.