High Ankle Sprains Can Be Tricky (Especially for Football Players)

January 20, 2022


The football season has come and gone and the aches and pains of soft tissue injuries are starting to show. Athlete may be dealing with a nagging ankle injury, knee pain, or maybe even a shoulder stinger. These injuries area part of the game of football, however, they don’t have to feel as scary. In this blog post, we will dive into a common ankle injury for football players, especially athletes who handle the ball. A high ankle sprain.

Q: What is a high ankle sprain?

This occurs when the ankle is twisted or jammed against the shin bone causing a separation of the two shinbones from one another (Tibia and Fibula). The Syndesmosis that connects those two bones can stretch or tear causing pain.

Q: What is the timetable for recovery?

Depending on the severity of the injury, the timetable for recovery and return to sport can be anywhere from 4 weeks to 12 weeks. The different grades can give a better indication on timeline.

• Grade 1: 4-6 weeks

• Grade 2: 5-8 weeks

• Grade 3: 8-12 weeks.

All injuries can’t be avoided, but the more resistant to stress you are, the less injuries you will have.


At first it may seem necessary to get an x-ray for an injury like a high ankle sprain because the twisting motion of the ankle against the shin bones can possibly lead to a fracture of the many structures of the lower leg. However, consider these 3 things first:

• The athlete can’t put weight down or walk on the injured ankle?

• Do they have pain with palpation to both ankle bones (lateral and medialmalleolus)?

• Do they have pain on either side of the mid foot?

If you answered yes to 2 out of 3 of these questions then an x-ray is necessary. If not, it may be more usefully to wait for the swelling to decrease and see a physical therapist, medical doctor, or primary care provider.