Acute ankle injuries in children and teens, and how to manage them!

Ankle sprains are common in a lot of different populations, particularly in growing kids and adolescents. Often with growth spurts kids can become more clumsy as they adjust to their new growing bodies. This can look like frequent knocks or bumps, trips and falls, or in some cases, rolling of the ankle joint.

The ankle joint

The ankle joint is made up of three main bones – the tibia, fibula and talus. These three bones join together to form a ‘mortise’ type joint, and are connected by ligaments, tendons and muscles. Compared to other joints in the body, the ankle is fairly mobile, meaning it has a large range of motion. The ankle needs to be this mobile in order for us to get through the various actions we participate in throughout the day (walking, jumping, running, squatting, balancing just to name a few!). 

When we are unbalanced (i.e. walking on uneven footing, wearing new shoes, or after a growth spurt) the ankle has a higher risk of rolling inwards or outwards – this is what we call an ankle sprain. The most common direction of an ankle sprain is rolling to the outside of your foot, so that the sole of your foot points in. You can see this demonstrated in the image below.

Healing times

Depending on the degree of sprain (mild, moderate or severe), healing times may take 2-4 weeks, all the way up to 8-12 weeks. Hands-on treatment to remove swelling and decrease tightness in the surrounding muscles helps with healing times. Along with this, rehab is EXTREMELY important and the only real way to prevent re-injury. 

The reason why ankle sprains can re-occur easily, is because once the ligaments have been overstretched once, they do not return to the same amount of tightness as they used to be. Similar to how a rubber band that has been around a large container for weeks, is floppy and lax when you take it off. Being diligent with strength and mobility rehab is imperative in improving ankle strength. 

In kids and teenagers, we want to really ensure strength, balance (proprioception) and mobility returns to the ankle following an injury. The sooner you get onto an injury like an ankle sprain, the quicker it starts to heal, and the less likely scar tissue is to develop. It’s also very important to prevent re-injury – the last thing we want is for a child or adolescent to have recurring ankle injuries young, as it may impact their ability to participate in sports in the future. 

Below we have a video showing James Clark, one of our osteopaths, demonstrating his go-to exercises to help strengthen a sprained ankle! Have a look, and give them a go if you have had previous ankle sprains! It’s never too late to start rehab!

A running analysis, is something that would be very beneficial in active teenagers who have rolled their ankle. Our osteopath James can assess your child’s running style to see if there is anything that may be contributing to their initial or recurring ankle sprains. As osteopaths we look holistically at the body, and there may be other areas (such as the knee, hip or lower back) which aren’t moving effectively that could be contributing to ankle biomechanics

If you have any questions about ankle sprains and how we can help you at Total Balance, give us a call on on (03) 9773 8085! Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online

Sarah @ Total Balance Healthcare




This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Phone: (03) 9773 8085

You may also like

Looking to Make an Appointment or Shop Online?

Booking Online is the most convenient way to lock in the clinician & time you want. We also have an Online Store with an amazing range of Osteo & Naturopathy Products.