The effect of lateral ankle sprain on dorsiflexion range of motion, posterior talar glide, and joint laxity

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2002 Apr;32(4):166-73. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2002.32.4.166.


Study design: Retrospective study.

Objective: Assess range of motion, posterior talar glide, and residual joint laxity following ankle sprain in a population of athletes who have returned to unrestricted activity.

Background: Lateral ankle sprains occur frequently in athletic populations and the reinjury rate may be as high as 80%. In an effort to better understand risk factors for reinjury, the sequelae to injury in a sample of college athletes were assessed.

Methods and measures: Twelve athletes with a history of lateral ankle sprain within the last 6 months and who had returned to sport participation were tested. Only athletes who reported never injuring the contralateral ankle were included. The injured and uninjured ankles of subjects were compared for measures of joint laxity, ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, and posterior talar glide. Friedman's test of rank order was used to analyze the laxity measures and a MANOVA was used to assess the dorsiflexion and posterior talar glide measures.

Results: Laxity was significantly greater at the talocrural and subtalar joints of the injured ankles. There were no significant differences in any of the ankle dorsiflexion measurements between injured and uninjured ankles, but posterior talar glide was significantly reduced in injured ankles as compared to uninjured ankles.

Conclusion: In our sample of subjects, residual ligamentous laxity was commonly found following lateral ankle sprain. Dorsiflexion range of motion was restored in the population studied despite evidence of restricted posterior glide of the talocrural joint. Although restoration of physiological range of motion was achieved, residual joint dysfunction persisted. Further research is warranted to elucidate the role of altered arthrokinematics after lateral ankle sprain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Injuries / complications*
  • Ankle Injuries / diagnosis
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / etiology
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physical Examination
  • Prognosis
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sprains and Strains / complications*
  • Sprains and Strains / diagnosis
  • Stress, Mechanical