Why Do Ankle Sprains Happen?

Research has proven that one of the main reasons behind ankle sprains is poor proprioception.

This is your ability to sense the exact position in space of your limbs.

When your foot has twisted upon making contact with the ground, it is because you were unable to put it down in the correct position.

As you know, the sole of your foot should be facing the ground when you put it down.

It sounds simple.  But its actually a skill that a lot of people lack, especially during movement.

If you were skilled at putting your foot down in the correct position, you’d never sprain your ankle.

It is the job of your proprioceptors to tell you the position of your feet whilst you are in motion.

Building your proprioception is a skill that you need to develop if you want to prevent ankle sprains.

What Are Proprioceptors?

Sensory receptors in your muscles, ligaments and tendons. They communicate with your brain to give you an awareness of what position your limbs are in.

Close your eyes and flip your hand over several times. You always know whether your palm is facing the ground or not, even though you can’t see it. This is the function of your proprioception.

You need to be able to sense what position your foot is in with every step, jump and stride that you take.

Sensing Your Ankle

This involves proprioceptors within the ankle capsule and stretch receptors in surrounding muscles and skin.

Studies show that after injury many of these receptors are lost, resulting in a feeling of instability.

Most people then go on to confuse this with having a “weak ankle”.

So after spraining your ankle, your proprioception has actually been diminished and is now worse than it was before.

This means that even after completely healing your ankle, the chances of another injury occurring have in fact increased.

It is this very fact that most physiotherapists and people fail to recognise.

After an ankle sprain, you must train your proprioception to a level beyond what it was before the sprain.

If you’re an athlete in a fast sport like football, rugby or tennis, then you’ll require advanced proprioceptive training.

The Good News

Your proprioception can be improved over time and relatively easily. Your brain is remarkable, it will create new connections with your ankles if you train it correctly.

The trick is to build your proprioception to a level that matches your lifestyle and activities.

What To Do

You cannot completely prevent ankle sprains. But you can minimise the chances of it ever happening again.

Effective ankle physiotherapy absolutely must include a lot of proprioception work.

I’ve developed my proprioception to a level where I can play sports and even do extreme movements without the worry of an ankle sprain.

I can help you do the same (click here for details).

If you’d like some free advice or ankle physiotherapy, please get in touch. Use the form below or contact me via email, Twitter or Instagram.



The effectiveness of the proprioception training in ankle rehabilitation – A Systematic Review“: Professor Doutor Hendrick Cabri [2009]

Is this my finger? Proprioceptive illusions of body ownership and representation“:
Martin Heroux, Lee D. Walsh, Simon C. Gandevia [2013]

Proprioception and muscle strength in subjects with a history of ankle sprains and chronic instability“:
Tine Williems, Peter Vaes [2002]

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