Ankle injuries in soccer – How they happen, and how to treat them

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Dr. Jeanne van Straten

M.Tech Chiropractic (UJ)

With the Soccer World Cup 2018 well on the way in Russia, more patients are entering our practices with soccer related injuries. These are primarily limited to the legs due direct contact or overuse of the muscles, ligaments or tendons but you can also have injuries to the shoulders, neck and back.

Ankle injuries

Ankle sprains are the most common injuries, however knee injuries have also been noted, especially when there was contact by accidental tripping or collision between two players.

Ankle sprain

Ankle sprains happen when the ankle ligaments are pulled or stretched when force is applied to the ankle in an abnormal position. It can occur on the medial or inside of the ankle or lateral or outside of the ankle and can be classified as minor (Grade 1 sprain) which can be treated at home with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication, moderate (Grade 2 sprain) or severe (Grade 3 sprain) where ligaments are torn. This will cause severe bruising and swelling and you will have trouble to place weight on the leg or even walk. With Grade 3 sprains, medical intervention is required.

How to treat ankle injuries

Directly after any ankle injury, it is best to rest the ankle and decrease any inflammation.

The pseudonym RICE is used to remember easily:

R: Rest the ankle by not walking or standing on it.

I: Ice the ankle to decease swelling in the area.

C: Compress the ankle by strapping it (not too tight) to immobilise the area.

E: Elevate the ankle to the level of the heart to help with drainage in the first 2 days.

With Grade 2 and Grade 3 sprains, crutches are often recommended to prevent further injury to the ankle.

Healing time

Grade 1 sprain take only a few days to heal and you will be able to compete again within 2 to 4 weeks.

Grade 2 sprains heal within 6 to 9 weeks from injury

Grade 3 sprains may take months and depends on the rehabilitation process and athlete.


Mobilisation:  After swelling has gone down, light mobility exercises are recommended. Your Chiropractor will be able to mobilise the each joint in the ankle and foot and assist in improved movement of musculature, ligaments and joints.

Strengthening: When stiffness in the ankle abated and you are able to walk or stand without tension, strengthening exercises will be added to improve ankle strength.

Proprioception and Balance: Proprioception is very important, especially to prevent future injury or recurring ankle sprains. Exercises can be provided by your chiropractor. By applying gentle manipulative techniques to the ankle, the nerve in the area stimulates proprioceptive abilities of the ankle and aid in rehabilitation.

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