A sprain is an injury to one or more ligaments in the ankle, usually located on the outside. Ligaments are bands of tissues (like rubber bands) that connect one bone to another, holding the joints in place by limiting side-to-side movement. Typically, this is caused by an unnatural twisting or force on the foot, which may stretch or tear one or more ligaments in the ankle.
The severity of an ankle sprain is dependent on whether the ligament is stretched, partially torn, or completely torn, in addition to the number of ligaments involved in the sprain.
Although similar, ankle sprains are NOT the same as ankle strains, or ankle fractures, which affect different mechanisms within the ankle.
Engaging in any of the following activities can increase your risk of an ankle sprain.
- Weak muscles and tendons that cross the ankle joint
- Weak or lax ligaments – this can be hereditary or due to overstretching of ligaments as a result of repetitive ankle sprains
- Poor ankle flexibility
- Lack of warm-up or stretching before activity
- Slow neuron muscular response to an off-balance position
- Running on uneven surfaces
- Shoes with inadequate heel support
- Wearing high-heeled shoes – due to the weak position of the ankle joint with an elevated heel, and a small base of support, this puts the ankle in a vulnerable position