Ankle Sprains and Soccer

by Dan Shuman DC, CCSP

ankle injury photoNobody likes being sidelined especially if it’s due to a sprained ankle.  A sprain injury refers to a stretching or tearing of the ligaments and in this case, around the ankle.  The most common form of ankle sprains in soccer is an inversion sprain that occurs on the outside of the foot. In studies of acute injury in recreational sports, sprained ankles are the most frequent type of injury reported by athletes.  Soccer, incidentally, is the sport responsible for the highest number of acute ankle sprains.

Common signs and symptoms of ankle sprains in soccer, or any other sport for that matter,  include the sensation of “rolling” the ankle.  Swelling, bruising and pain usually accompany the injury and vary in severity depending on the extent of damage to ligaments and tendons.  Sometimes, athletes will find it hard to bear weight immediately after the injury and into the days following.  It is important to apply the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation) principles when there is acute inflammation present, beginning from the time of injury and up to 3-7 days post-injury.  It is also important to have you’re ankle examined by a healthcare professional to rule out a fracture and prescribe appropriate treatment.  More often than not, athletes return to play too quickly without fully rehabilitating the injury often leading to chronic ankle instability and poor postural stability/balance. It is notable that soccer players also have the highest percentage of participants with recurrent, or multiple, ankle sprains at 70%!

One simple test that can be done at home to identify if you are at risk for an ankle injury is the Dorsiflexion Lunge Test.  This test is validated and predictive of future injury in soccer.  Dorsiflexion, or pulling your toes and ankle toward your head, is necessary for a normal gait, climbing stairs, and rising from a squatting position. Patients lacking adequate dorsiflexion are at increased risk for re-injury and have limitations in normal functional activities.

The test is performed by placing the foot up against a wall and lunging the knee toward the wall. The foot is moved farther away from the wall until the knee can no longer touch the wall. The heel stays on the floor and the ankle moves straight ahead without any deviations.  The distance from the wall to the tip of the foot is measured. Anything less than 10 cm is considered restricted.  Give it a try.

ankle exercise


Recent ankle sprain?  Tight or restricted ankles from previous sprains?  It’d be a good idea to get a biomechanical assessment on the area and any other areas that might be involved to assess and avoid future injury.

Dr. Dan Shuman is a Georgia native and has lived in Atlanta for the past six years. He is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of LaGrange College and a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Life University. He is nationally certified instructor for Active Release Techniques. Call 404-377-0011 to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Shuman.

Related Articles: