A High Ankle Sprain Guide to Recovery

It seems like every week you hear some top athlete has a high ankle injury. Now your son who plays football has a high ankle sprain or your daughter that plays volleyball just got diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. You’ve heard the high ankle sprain is much worse than a common low ankle sprain. But what is a high ankle sprain and how does it happen? Why are high ankle injuries so much more difficult to treat?

Where a classic low ankle injury is caused when the ankle rolls inward, a high ankle injury typically occurs when the ankle and lower leg rotates excessively outward. Unlike a classic low ankle injury, a high ankle sprain is not necessary to the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint, although this can occur, but to the tissue and ligaments that hold the lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula, together. Hence the term “high” ankle sprain because the injury is above the ankle joint. High ankle injuries are more severe and take longer to hear than low ankle injuries.

Athletes with a high ankle injury will most likely complain of pain in their lower leg. If an athlete believes they have a high ankle injury, they should cease activity immediately and get a quick evaluation by an athletic trainer or other medical professional. Since athletes with a high ankle injury are typically out twice as long as someone who suffers a classic low ankle injury, it’s important to not make the injury worse by continuing activities.

Once evaluated, the sports medicine professional will most likely prescribe the common RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) for initial care of the injury. Physical therapy will be needed to help reduce swelling and pain initially, then to regain ankle strength and range of motion. A physical therapist or athletic trainer are the best qualified medical professionals to oversee the rehabilitation process. Then you will need an ankle brace that is designed specifically to treat a high ankle injury versus a low ankle injury, meaning the brace will help restrict excessive ankle rotation that caused the high ankle injury. Most ankle braces are designed only to help restrict ankle turning which causes low ankle injuries.

There is one company that has pioneered ankle braces for high ankle injuries and that is Ultra Ankle. Ultra Ankle’s Ultra CTS ankle brace is designed to restrict excessive ankle rotation that causes high ankle injuries as well as “unload” or “offload” the ankle to help reduce weight bearing pain. A proprietary Performathane® soft outer shell uses body heat to form a custom-fit to the ankle which enhances comfort and support.


At Ultra Ankle you have total access to our Certified Athletic Trainers that help you select the appropriate Ultra Ankle brace for your ankle condition and then help you fit your new Ultra Ankle brace once it arrives. Start the conversation by sending our Certified Athletic Trainer a message.

Even though they aren’t the most common ankle issue, acute ankle injuries tend to be discussed more among athletic trainers and sports medicine professionals since they can be the most damaging to an athlete and their career. But what about the most common, less-discussed ankle issue that is prevalent among today’s athletes both young and old? I’m talking about non-acute mild/moderate ankle instability.

Let’s say an athlete has a brief history of previous ligament injuries to the same ankle and they play a sport with a high incidence of ankle injuries, like basketball or volleyball. One goal as an athletic trainer would be to stop the cycle of ankle injury to prevent more severe problems down the road – but what are the best injury prevention methods for mild/moderate ankle instability?

After an ankle injury occurs, the standard next step for most athletic trainers is to implement a rehabilitation program customized to the injured athlete’s specific needs. Though stretching, strength-building, and proprioception exercises help to heal the ankle, it’s never back to 100% because the damaged ligament has lost some of its integrity (tightness) making reoccurring ankle injuries a distinct possibility. For that reason alone, it’s important to prevent ankle injuries before they even occur.

While we would love to share with you a long list of proven ways to prevent ankle injuries, the truth is that bracing the ankle joint is the most effective treatment method available. Once a rehab program is complete what is to stop a volleyball player from landing on another person’s shoe during a jump? A football player from being tackled and falling at the wrong angle? A basketball player from grabbing a rebound and landing on another player? It’s a split second movement that no amount of ankle strengthening can prevent.

With the goal of preventing another ankle injury in mind, the best treatment method for managing mild/moderate ankle instability is to brace the ankle. Bracing is going to provide more support than tape and for a longer period of time. Since we are not focusing on chronic ankle instability, the brace need not be super rigid and restrictive but instead be a lightweight, low-profile ankle brace that is comfortable to wear over long periods of time. A comfortable, long-lasting ankle brace would be the most effective method of treating mild/moderate ankle instability without restricting athletic performance.

If you’ve worked with athletes with mild/moderate ankle instability in the past, what are some of your go-to treatment and rehabilitation options? What methods do you feel have worked best and why? Let us know on our Facebook page, share with us on Twitter, or send us a message on our website.

Ultra Zoom

Help prevent ankle injuries all season long.

Ultra High-5

Reinforce the ankle after a history of multiple ankle injuries

Ultra CTS

Maximize stabilization to treat acute ankle injuries