Reader Question: Sprained Ankle and Sports Massage

A reader asks,

I sprained my ankle several times over the years, the worst being about 12 years ago going down a step and landing on the outside of my foot with ankle turned in. It still bothers me with tenderness and discomfort from side of my leg above the ankle, radiating up to behind the knee. I am considering sports massage for relief.

A good sports massage therapist or one trained in injury rehabilitation might be able to help you out. When an ankle is sprained, not only the ligaments of the joints are affected. The muscles of the lower leg may be strained and continue to cause pain and weakness long after the initial injury has healed.  I have often found trigger points or tender areas in the muscles of the side of the lower leg - the peroneals - or the muscle in the front along the shin - the tibialis anterior - that may linger for years after an ankle sprain. Sometimes the muscle in the lower calf - the soleus - may be involved. Often, when these muscles are treated and the trigger points addressed, the persistent pain and weakness will begin to clear up.

If several thorough treatments with a knowledgeable massage therapist do not produce results, my next step would be to ask for a referral to a physical therapist. It may be that something about your posture or gait is perpetuating the problem. A good physical therapist can spot the source of the problem and give corrective exercises. In most states, you will need a doctor's referral to see a physical therapist.

Thanks for asking!


The purpose of massage after the event is to aid the athlete to recover from an activity. This is achieved by reducing post exercise soreness, re-establishing full range of motion and enhancing flow of blood to tight muscles. One can heal from the strenuous competition and can be dramatically reduced with a good post massage.