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How to Avoid Chronic Instability Following an Ankle Sprain

How to Avoid Chronic Instability Following an Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are prevalent injuries that affect both athletes and non-athletes alike. They happen when the ligaments around the ankle joint stretch beyond their capacity, sometimes tearing and causing significant disability.

A sprained ankle can be mild, moderate, or severe, but most heal with conservative, nonsurgical measures. However, if your ankle doesn't heal correctly, you could be at risk for a complication known as chronic ankle instability.

Chronic ankle instability is often the result of a severe sprained ankle or repeat injuries, causing the ankle to give out frequently — but there are ways to avoid it.

Dr. Marque A. Allen and the Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio team offer expert treatment for all ankle sprains to help you avoid long-lasting instability.

Dr. Allen is a board-certified podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery when necessary. He provides customized treatments to get you back on your feet after an ankle sprain.

The facts on ankle instability

Ankle instability happens when the joint frequently gives out on the lateral aspect of the ankle. It's often the result of frequent injuries to the joint or ankle sprains that don't heal properly.

In most cases, the ankle gives out during activities like sports or running; it can also occur while standing in place.

Instability is the main complaint of people living with chronic ankle instability, but there are other symptoms.


Many people report swelling around the affected ankle, along with persisting pain and tenderness. You may also feel as though your ankle has no support and always seems unstable.

Risk factors for instability

One of the most significant risk factors for ankle instability is repeatedly spraining the ankle. As the ligaments continue to stretch and tear, it affects the stability of the entire joint, especially if you don't adequately allow it to heal.

However, other factors also increase the risk of chronic ankle instability, and they include:

Another significant risk factor for chronic ankle instability is playing a sport that increases your risk of an ankle sprain. Sports like basketball, soccer, and gymnastics strain the ankle joints, putting you at risk for injury.

Tips to avoid chronic ankle instability

Although chronic ankle instability is highly prevalent, especially after a moderate to severe ankle sprain, you can take measures to prevent it.

Dr. Allen provides you with various tips and exercises that strengthen the ankle joint and decrease the likelihood that you'll experience instability. The advice he recommends to his patients includes the following:

Work on balance

Balance is essential when you play sports, but also in daily life. Work with your physical therapist to improve balance to decrease the chances of an ankle sprain and chronic ankle instability.

Finish rehab completely

After an ankle sprain, the most important thing you can do is allow the ankle to heal entirely and finish all rehabilitation before returning to sports or vigorous exercise.

If the ankle joint doesn't heal completely, you have a higher risk of reinjuring the joint, essentially causing chronic ankle instability.

Support the ankle

After an ankle sprain or injury, you must continue to support the joint for at least a year, even if your joint feels fine. Extra support allows the joint to stabilize and strengthen, decreasing the chances of long-term instability.

Wear braces or high-top shoes

Highly active people should wear ankle braces or high-top shoes to support the ankle joints. It's primarily a good idea if you're prone to ankle sprains or play a sport that puts significant stress on the feet and ankles.

Stretch and warm-up

Going into an exercise or game without a proper warm-up is a recipe for disaster. Ensure you stretch and loosen up the muscles, ligaments, and tendons before engaging in vigorous activity.

If you have an ankle sprain or the joint continues to give out, don't hesitate to call Sports Medicine Associates of San Antonio today at one of our convenient locations in San Antonio and Alamo Heights, Texas. You can also request a consultation with Dr. Allen on the website.

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