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The Difference Between High & Low Ankle Sprains

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 16, 2016 11:15:50 AM / by Rick Peters

Rick Peters

091916-HighLowDifference.pngIn the U.S. an estimated 25,000 ankle injuries occur each day, so you are probably no stranger to having a sprained ankle or seeing someone else sprain their ankle. Generally speaking, there are two types of ankle sprains that are diagnosed depending on where the injury is located on the ankle – the low ankle sprain and the high ankle sprain.

Low Ankle Injury

The classic ankle injury where the ankle rolls inward stretching the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle joint. Medically this is called an inversion ankle sprain. 80% of all ankle injuries are inversion related. The alternative to an inversion sprain would be when the ankle rolls outward, again stretching the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle joint in an eversion ankle sprain.


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High Ankle Injury

These occur when the foot/ankle externally rotate which stretches the tissue holding the two lower leg bones (tibia & fibula) together. This injury occurs above the ankle joint thus the name high ankle injury. An athlete with a high ankle injury will have more pain and a longer rehabilitation period when compared to a low ankle injury. Medically this injury is called a syndesmotic’ ankle injury.

For more information on high and low ankle sprains, how their severity is measured, and how to treat sprains click here to download our free e-book: The Parent's Guide to Ankle Injuries.

Recovering from an Ankle Injury

Depending on the type and severity of the sprain you get, there are a variety of treatment options available to help get you back in the game as quickly and safely as possible. Before returning to play or beginning any rehabilitation on your injured ankle, it's important for you to consult your sports medicine professional to receive a treatment plan that is specific to your injury.

After you've healed, a sports medicine professional may continue to prescribe an icing regimen, rehab exercises, and the use of an ankle brace to aide your treatment. With each ankle sprain, the ligaments in your ankle joint become more and more loose, making the odds of a re-sprain occuring as high as 70%.

For this reason, it's highly recommended that strength/balance exercises are completed as well as wearing a preventative ankle brace to help prevent or reduce the severity of future ankle injuries if, and when, they occur. If you're not sure which ankle brace would be most helpful for your situation, send one of our athletic trainers a message and we'd be happy to talk through it with you! 

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Rick Peters

Written by Rick Peters

Rick Peters is a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been advancing ankle bracing technology for three decades. Peters patented his first ankle brace in 1985, revolutionizing the industry by adding a hinge to traditional stirrup braces for greater mobility. In 1989 he was a founder and became President of Active Ankle Systems. In 1998 he co-founded Ultra Athlete LLC to develop the next generation of ankle bracing technology. Peters has 18 ankle brace patents and is considered an authority on ankle bracing technology worldwide.