Ankle sprains are relatively common injuries that athletes often sustain through their careers. If you have been following the Eagles this year, you know that Jalen Hurts was diagnosed this month with a high ankle sprain. Depending on the type of ankle sprain, the pain and recovery time can vary greatly. So let’s dig deeper into the different types of ankle sprains.

A traditional or low ankle sprain makes up about 90% of all ankle sprains. A lower ankle sprain occurs when your foot rolls to the side out toward your pinkie toe, causing the ligaments (connective tissue that connects bone to bone) to get stretched out. The low ankle sprain ligaments are the ones that connect your side leg bone (fibula) to your foot. Think of this injury as what happens when a basketball player jumps up and, on the landing, the player’s foot rolls to the outside.

High ankle sprains are more rotational in nature. Football players tend to have high ankle sprains more than athletes in any other sports because of the different movements they make as well as the fact that it’s a contact sport where somebody might land on your leg. High ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that connect your shin (tibia) bone are stretched in relation to your fibula. For this injury, imagine your shin facing forward and your foot being forced to rotate to the side. This awkward motion separates the two bones, therefore stretching the connecting ligaments.

Recovery usually takes longer for a high ankle sprain (weeks) than for a low ankle sprain (days). If you have been diagnosed with either a high or a low ankle sprain, you will want to seek the help of an orthopedic physician to make sure that there was no additional damage like a fracture and then the help of a physical therapist who can help you strengthen the muscles around the ankle to increase stability.

I spoke with Emanuela Mannino, a physical therapist based out of Integrated Physical Therapy in King of Prussia, to get her advice on treatment. She recommends starting with compression, elevation, and icing the ankle until the swelling goes down. If the swelling doesn’t go down in a few days or if you still feel stiff or have pain, seek the help of a medical professional. Your doctor or therapist should work with you to help increase your range of motion prior to working on your strengthening. Once your range of motion has been restored, expect to start non-weight bearing exercises that work on both flexibility and light resistance in all ranges of the ankle.

By seeking proper care, you can expect a full recovery from an ankle sprain.

Marc Legere is a chiropractor specializing in full body soft tissue injuries out of King of Prussia and Cherry Hill.