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Lateral Ankle Sprain

"I rolled my ankle during class and heard a 'pop' sound."

Ankle sprains are the most common type of ankle injury for dancers. Ankle sprains involve the lateral (outside) structures of the ankle and occur when the ankle is inverted (turned or rolled outwards). A lateral ankle sprain is the result of tears to any of the lateral stabilizing ligaments. Sprains are graded 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree (3rd degree being the most severe) depending on the involvement and integrity of these ligaments.


Ankle sprains are usually sustained upon landing jumps, either improperly or landing on an object or another dancers foot. It is common for significant sprains to also produce an audible 'pop' sound. Other related factors that can contribute to ankle sprains include:

  • working close to the limits of strength
  • a slight loss of balance
  • a lapse in concentration

Upon sustaining an ankle sprain, a dancer will usually notice swelling and pain over the lateral ankle. The severity of these symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the sprain. Some dancers are able to walk, some are unable to bear weight at all. Bruising over the lateral ankle can emerge within 1-3 days following an ankle sprain.


As with any injury that involves inflammation, apply the RICE treatment protocol:

  • Rest - avoid using the ankle to prevent further damage.
  • Ice - apply ice or cold packs to the ankle for 15–20 minutes each hour to help reduce swelling.
  • Compression - wrap a tensor bandage around the ankle to help reduce swelling.
  • Elevation - elevate above the heart and support the ankle while resting to prevent blood from pooling and increasing swelling.
  • The severity of the ankle sprain will dictate the amount of protection and immobilization the ankle requires.

A Grade 1 sprain may only need the support of an ace wrap bandage or an Aircast splint.

A Grade 3 sprain may need to be immobilized with a splint and the dancer will likely need to use crutches or a walking boot for ambulation.

Ankle sprains should be evaluated to rule out any fractures.

Follow-up treatment with a podiatrist is crucial to develop strength and balance prior to returning to dance activities and thus reduce the potential for recurring sprains.

BOOK an assessment with our podiatrist  who will provide treatment and identify and correct  any underlying biomechanical issues and muscle imbalances and assist with rehabilitation.