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Ankle Sprains in Athletics

Recent studies of injuries in athletics conducted with team doctors and physiotherapists at major championships found the rate of sprained ankles among all injuries in top level athletes between 7.7% for men and 4.7% for women in 2009, and the average for both men and women of 6% in 2011. The high number of recurrent sprains and the frequency of long-term complications from instability and degenerative arthritis in athletes and former athletes suggest that current management protocols may not always be optimal.

An important issue is the pressure athletes, coaches and parents exert on the physicians to allow return to training and competition as soon as possible can be significant. Often, those involved fail to appreciate the risks of re-injury or chronic disability and there are many cases where athletes return to the sports arena before their rehabilitation is fully completed.

The authors, both members of the IAAF Medical and Anti-Doping Commission, provide an overview of information from the current literature on key aspects of ankle sprains in the hope that it will lead to improved care for athletes. The target audience includes medical practitioners, coaches and others involved with the preparation and management of athletes.