What Is Chronic Ankle Instability?


We often see clients who say, At the Corio Bay Sports Treatment Clinic we see lots of people who say “I roll my ankles all the time!”

Chronic ankle instability, as the name implies, is a chronic condition of instability affecting the ankle and its surrounding structures. It usually develops after a severe ankle sprain. However, some people are born with less stable ankles; these individuals are generally extra flexible throughout their bodies. Approximately 20% of ankle sprains lead to chronic ankle instability due to the resulting changes in ligament support, lack of strength, a slow muscle reaction time and poor awareness of foot position.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain

  • Weakness

  • Giving Way

  • Swelling

  • No Confidence in ankles

What are the causes?

Following an ankle sprain, ligaments can be stretched and slightly weaker; in severe cases, they have torn altogether, leaving the ankle structurally weaker. Without full rehabilitation, the surrounding muscles also become weaker, and studies have shown that balance and sensation of the ankle can also be reduced. This means that the ankle is more likely to be injured again, creating a vicious cycle leading to further instability.

How can physio help?

 Physiotherapists can assess your mobility strength and balance with specific tests. Treatment for chronic ankle instability focuses on improving strength, control and balance with a variety of techniques and exercises. This approach can significantly improve ankle stability and reduce the risk of future sprains. Physiotherapists can help patients to regain confidence and get back to their best performance. STRENGTH IS THE KEY!

Your Physiotherapist can also fit you with a brace or show you how to tape your ankle for extra support during exercise but this cannot be a substitute for strengthening. Check out our youtube video of how to tape an ankle.

In cases of extreme ligament laxity or if physiotherapy fails, surgery to repair the damaged ligaments is considered. This is usually combined with a full physiotherapy rehabilitation program for greatest success.

None of the information in this article is a replacement for proper medical advice. Always see a medical professional for advice on your condition.  

Book An Appointment

If you don’t feel 100% confident with your ankle, come and have a chat with one of our physiotherapists to see if we can help improve your ankle stability. Book online or call the clinic on (03) 5232 2400.