News & Blog

Gareth Bale’s Ankle Sprain

I am sure many of you would have heard about or seen Gareth Bales ankle injury, if not follow this link to our Facebook page to see it . Gareth rolled over on his ankle last week and from the video/photo his ankle appears to be at right angles to his leg – ouch! Now most ankles have approximately 30-50 degrees into this direction (inversion) certainly not 90 degrees so how is it that he is scheduled to return to playing football in 2 weeks?


Before I explain how, it’s important to understand a little more about the ankle. The bottom of the tibia (shin bone) and fibular bone form a mortise for the talus bone to sit into (a mortise is essentially a hole designed to receive a corresponding projection – the talus). This part of the ankle allows movement in a forward and backward motion (foot up and down). The Talus bone sits on top of the heel bone (calcaneus) and allows for rolling in and out motion (inversion and eversion). All of these bones are held together by ligaments on the outside and inside of the ankle. Any excessive movement is guarded by our ligaments. So in other words, when our ankle or foot goes too far into one direction the ankle ligaments become tight to prevent the bones from coming apart (dislocating).


Back to our story….So how come Gareth Bale can roll his ankle greater than the normal 50 degrees and return to play football in such a short time? Normally this type of injury would tear the ligaments and (a) lead to the player being out for 6-12 weeks or (b) in some cases requiring reconstructive surgery. If you followed the story you will know that Gareth Bale has previously experienced this injury and as such has stretched these ligaments to allow this degree of movement. Is this okay then? Well not really, although he will make a fast return to playing football his ankle is at much greater risk of rolling again due to the lack of ankle stability and restraint offered by the stretched ligaments. In the long term he will probably also suffer osteoarthritis due to the additional movement or “play” occurring between the joints.


Finally what other options does Gareth have? Ankle surgery to reconstruct his ligaments and offer him improved ankle stability might be an option, but would Spurs Football Club want their prize asset to be out for 3 months while recovering from this procedure? If he does continue to play on with this problem and develops severe osteoarthritis he could be looking at a surgical ankle fusion in years to come – yuk!