Sprained your Ankle?

Five ways physiotherapy and massage therapy can help.

It is no exaggeration to say that sustaining an ankle injury can be painful, frustrating and disruptive to your everyday life. One of the most common types of ankle injury is a sprain, which the NHS defines as a “torn or twisted ligament (tissue that connects the joints)”. Some people view a sprain as a minor problem; however, it is one that can cause long term problems if managed improperly. Don’t worry, as speaking with a professional physiotherapist and planning a customised course of action can really help when recuperating from your sprain. Here are five ways physiotherapy and massage therapy can help you recover from your injury and return to normal life:

Reduce stiffness and swelling

As your ligaments begin to recover from a sprain, you will almost certainly experience a bit of stiffness and swelling in your ankle as it has been held in one position for a long period of time. Your physiotherapist can provide you with a range of targeted exercises to increase the range of motion in your ankle. These stretching exercises will increase the amount of movement in your ankle and this will help to alleviate the stiffness and swelling that you’re experiencing.

Increase strength

Once your ankle can bear weight and you’ve completed your physiotherapist’s range of motion exercises, they will begin to help you build strength back in to your ankle. Using a resistance band and other implements, you will be shown how to push, pull and stretch your ankle to regain power and take more weight.

Reduce limping

A common affliction related to spraining your ankle is limping. Regaining your balance, agility and coordination is essential to making a full recovery without a permanent hobble. Your physiotherapist will advise you on a schedule of activities that will help improve your ability to stand and walk without a limp.

Help to manage pain

Pain and soreness can be a problem suffered throughout your recovery from an ankle sprain. This pain may not be limited to your ankle, as other parts of your body adapt and compensate to assist in your ankle’s recovery. There are various approaches that can help to manage and alleviate any pain you may be feeling and one of the most effective is massage therapy. Your physiotherapist can use various massage therapy techniques to manually stimulate your muscles and mobilise associated joints and bones, this, in turn, can bring you long-term relief from the pain associated with your sprain.

Give you back your freedom

Any injury to your ankle or lower leg can unfortunately mean that your normal life is impacted. You may need to use crutches or similar implements to get around and as your sprain heals, some activities may prove difficult to undertake on your own. However, with help from your professional physiotherapist you will start to see noticeable improvements.


After an ankle injury, of which the most common is an ‘inversion’ injury, one of the main reasons for re-injury is a disruption to the proprioception system. Proprioception is the body’s awareness in space and can be thought of as one’s balance. Ankle ligament injuries affect this system so that the brain doesn’t completely know where the ankle is and can lead to the foot being placed in a way that can cause injury, as the brain isn’t completely in tune to the foot.  Physiotherapy works by reprogramming proprioception through a variety of balance exercises so that the brain is fully in tune with the ankle so that when running, jumping or squatting, everything is working in unison. 

As you move through some of the exercises and activities mentioned above, you will start to see ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’! Over time you should regain your independence and continue making strides back to a normal life.

* Contact Reach Physiotherapy for a list of references used for this blog content.