Physiotherapy for ankle and foot pain

Injuries to the ankle and/or foot can be both acute and chronic. Ankle and foot injuries can occur from a single event such as rolling the ankle, they can also develop over time due to overuse or sudden increase in walking/ running/ training. Ankle injuries are often referred to as the most common injury in relation to sport.

Healing time frames vary depending on the severity of the ankle/ foot injury which is why it’s essential an accurate diagnosis is made in order to establish a comprehensive and individualised treatment plan.

Common injuries of the ankle and foot

• Lateral Ligament sprains (ATFL, CFL, PTFL)
• Medial Ligament Sprain (Deltoid)
• Achilles injury (Tendinopathy, tears, Rupture)
• Fractures
• Peroneal Tendinopathy
• Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
• Chronic ankle instability/ ligament laxity
• Syndesmosis injury
• Bursitis
• Osteochondral lesions
• Plantar Fasciopathy (Fasciitis)
• Fat pad contusion
• Lisfranc’s joint injury

Common causes and mechanisms of injury

Everyday causes 

  • Rolling ankle
  • Fall from height
  • Slipping on slippery or unstable surfaces
  • Direct force
  • Sudden increase in activity (walking, exercise)


Sports related

  • Change of direction, twisting, rolling, jumping
  • Landing on single leg
  • Direct force/ playing falling across fixed ankle
  • Increase in training load

When should you consult our physiotherapists?

• Pain, bruising and/or swelling around ankle foot
• Inability to fully or partially weight bear on injured foot
• Loss of range of motion
• Feeling of giving way or instability
• Tenderness or increase in pain following increase in activity
• Clicking or catching
• Inability to perform not activities of daily living
• Signs of infection, redness, warmth and/ or fever

Physiotherapy treatment for ankle and foot pain/injuries

Depending on the injury, to allow for accurate diagnosis to be made a series of orthopaedic and/ or strength tests will be used, designed to isolate the injured area or structures. Medical imaging may also be required such as X-ray, MRI and Ultrasound.

Once a diagnosis is made the Physiotherapist will create an individualised treatment plan based around the individual’s injury, goals and lifestyle.

The treatment plan is broken down into sections to allow for a comprehensive rehabilitation program.

Acute Phase

Treatment consists of manual therapy and a variety of modalities protecting the area from further injury and to reduce the pain and swelling, allowing the ankle/ foot to be ready for the next stage of treatment.

Regain Range of motion

The next step is restoring range of motion of the ankle. This is vital to allow for normal movements at the ankle to be regained, to assist normal walking pattern and every use. Hands on manual therapy will be continued with the addition of some home exercises such as stretching and range of motion exercises.

Strengthening phase.

The next stage will be to regain strength allowing normal everyday function. This will include isolated strength work, stability, control, balance, gait retraining and endurance exercises. This can be done in the treatment rooms, the facilities gym, group classes and supported with a personalised home exercise program.

Functional/ sport specific

The final stage will be aimed at returning the patient to their original level of function to allow for a return to sport or activities. Exercises will be target at the patient’s goals along with ongoing maintenance of the injury site reducing the chance of reinjuring the area. This can be done through the facilities gym, group classes, gait/ running analysis, sport specific exercises and an ongoing home exercise program.