Separate parts normally don’t stay together on their own. They need something, some stabilizing force, to attach them together and hold them in place. Picture a rubber band binding together all the loose sheets of a newspaper. Separate parts in your body need stabilizers to hold them together, too, or your skeleton would fall apart. This is especially true for joints. When those stabilizers become over-stretched and painful, however, you develop a sprain. Ankle sprains are one of the most common lower limb injuries, and they can leave you unstable and in pain.
What a Sprain Actually Is
Ankle sprains are a painful over-stretching of the ligaments that stabilize and support your ankle joint. Your ankle is made up of three bones. The talus, also called the ankle bone, sits above your heel. The tibia and fibula, which make up your lower leg, rest on top of that. Ligaments keep these bones together while still allowing them to move in certain ways so that your ankle actually functions and supports weight.
Sprains damage these ligaments. Usually a fall, sudden twist, or some other kind of blow forces your foot to one side. This suddenly stretches the connective tissue. Normally, ligaments do have a limited amount of stretch—but if an injury forces them past that point, the tissue gets damaged and severely loosened. Not only are ankle sprains painful, but unstable joints don’t support weight or heavy force very well. They’re prone to giving out when you’re active or putting too much weight on them.