Physioworks Health Group
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Australian Physiotherapy Association
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Physioworks Health Group

Ankle injuries are very common on the sporting field.

Most ankle injuries will occur to the lateral aspect on the ankle joint, causing disruption to the ligaments that support the joint (see diagrams below).

In Football and Netball, the typical mechanism of an ankle sprain is standing or landing on a turned-in foot. The player may feel a crack, pop or tearing sensation at the time of incident, and significant swelling may follow.

Neither the sound nor swelling are good indicators of the extent of the injury. Your club physio or trainer should screen the ankle for bone damage before clearing a player to return to the field.

By following the “Ottowa Ankle Rules”, your club physio or trainer can decide if a player can return to the field, or if they require an X-ray.

  1. Does the athlete have any pain in the malleolar zone? (see diagram below)
  2. Is there any tenderness on the posterior aspect of the tibia (inside of ankle), up to 6 cm above the ankle?
  3. Is there any tenderness on the posterior aspect of the fibula (outside of ankle), up to 6 cm above the ankle?
  4. Is the athlete unable to weight bare four (4) steps at the time of injury or at the time of assessment?



If you answered yes to the first rule, and any one of the following three, the athlete should not return to the field and should be referred for an X-ray.

Generally, pain and function permitting, a player should be able to return to the field after a low grade ankle ligament sprain. Appropriate strapping and a skills test by your physio or trainer should be completed before considering return to the field.

With a low grade ankle sprain it is important post game that the player apply the RICE and HARM principals of injury self management to assist in best recovery.

The key aspect of ankle management is to get the correct diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation as soon as possible to ensure a quick return to play and most importantly ensuring that the injury doesn’t become chronic.

For further information, assessment or treatment please don’t hesitate to contact us at Physioworks Health Group

About Samuel Mayes:

Samuel Mayes is the club Physiotherapist at the Pakenham Lions Football Club. In 2013 he was the attending physiotherapist for the Casey Cardinia Football Netball Inter League teams. Sam works at Physioworks Health Group, consulting at Physioworks Cranbourne and Pakenham clinics

About Physioworks Health Group:

Physioworks Health Group has a team of dedicated physiotherapists and health professionals providing a range of specialist health services at ‘state of the art’ clinics in Camberwell, Cranbourne, Pakenham and Mulgrave. Physioworks Director David Francis is the Senior Physiotherapist to the Collingwood Football Club.