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Ankle Impingement

February 5, 2024

Persistent dull ankle pain across the front of the ankle long after an ankle sprain has heeled is common. Improper rehab after an acute ankle injury or re-occurring ankle sprains can lead to a pinching of the joint at the front of the ankle. This pinching of the bones and soft tissues as your knee moves in front of the toes (as in running, or walking down a stairs) will cause a sharper pain and stiffness in the ankle. The body will compensate for this pinching and can result in overcompensation by other joints, leading to secondary injuries in the toes, knees and hips. Ankle impingement can also be known as ‘Footballers Ankle’.

The ankle joint is comprised of the talus and tibia. The talus is a bone between the foot and the shine. Its role is to slide back as the knees move forward over the toes. When an ankle injury occurs the joint will become stiff and the bones don’t slide the way they should. After the swelling goes down, the bones don’t also start to slide the way they should due to the formation of scar tissue. When the talus doesn’t slide back as the tibia most forward above it, it will catch the bones and soft tissue causing pain. If this happens over a long period of time, bone spurs can form causing increased pain and leading to arthritis.

What can contribute to ankle impingement?

  • Inadequate rehab following an ankle sprain
  • Muscular tightness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Bony abnormalities
  • Weak intrinsic foot muscles
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Excessive training
  • Poor balance
  • Insufficient warm up and rest periods

What can be done to rehab ankle impingement?

Ankle impingement is generally rehabilitated with joint mobilisation, dry needing, massage and stretching and strengthening exercises. Some people may need orthotics to compensate for bony changes within the joint if it has been a long standing issue. Exercise will need to be progressed up to high performance power and speed stages to ensure correct rehab.  


If you have any questions about ankle impingement or any other injuries, please call our Merrion Square clinic on 01 441 0100 and speak to any of our Physiotherapists.