What Is A Rolled Ankle?

What does it mean to roll an ankle?

You will often hear people saying that they have rolled their ankle… but what does it actually mean? What is the anatomy of the ankle and what structures are damaged? What is the healing process and management? Today we will answer all those questions for you


What is a rolled ankle?

A ligament sprain in the ankle is often referred to an “rolled ankle”. Ligaments are tissues that connect from bone to bone which hold structures together.

Sprains are separated into 3 grades:

Grade I: Minimal fibres are torn. Healing time 0- 6 weeks

Grade II: Moderate to significant fibres are torn. Healing time: 6 – 12 weeks

Grade III Complete rupture of the ligament. Healing time: 12 weeks – 12 months

When an ankle is “rolled” inwards or outwards, this causes overpressure and over stretching of the ligament which results in a sprain. The most commonly injured ligaments are the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) on the outside of your foot or the deltoid ligament which is located on the inside of your foot. During rarer cases, a rolled ankle can also result in a fracture of the 5th metatarsal or the fibula.


What is the management plan?

PEACE & LOVE: This is an initial treatment for an acute injury. This will allow the healing process to kick in which results in a better outcome than RICE.

Movement and exercises: Your physiotherapist will prescribe you exercises in order to preserve the range of motion (ROM) and muscles strength. Also movement is key… by placing a reasonable amount of weight onto the injury site will actually result in a better outcome than just resting it completely.

Taping and return to sport: Taping can assist healing after the injury if the athlete is ready to return to sport. Taping provides some structural support and proprioception.


In conclusion: Rolling an ankle means ligament sprains. Depending on the severity, it has different healing time and process. We would highly recommend to get a rolled ankle checked out and perform proper rehab to maximise the outcome.

What does a rolled ankle mean? What structures are damaged? What is the healing process and management? Find out about it by reading our blog!


This information can be used to gain a better understanding of ankle sprain. To find out more about how we can help, or to book in for a consultation you can contact us via our Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy & Wellness contact us page, or book online here.

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