Photo of woman with back pain as a results of an ankle injury.

3 Signs Your Ankle Injury is Causing Lower Back Pain

Kerrie-Ann Bernard Ankle pain, Back pain


Sprained ankles are the most common sports-related injuries seen by physiotherapists.  If you’ve ever rolled or sprained your ankle, you’ll know that hurting your ankle can impact the way you walk or run (known as your gait) and the way your body aligns (your body mechanics). But did you know that not seeking treatment can have long-lasting potentially debilitating effects on other parts of your body including your lower back? Here are three ways you can tell if your sprained ankle is causing low back pain.

Can’t Bend Your Knees Further Than Your Toes

Standing roughly one foot from a wall, toes pointing toward the wall, bend your knee forward, are you able to make your knee touch the wall? If you’re unable to move your knee forward relative to your foot, you could have an issue with linear ankle mobility, or the ability to bend your ankle forward. A common side effect of this is an inability or difficulty in squatting, walking up or down stairs, walking, and lifting.

Your Ankles and Knees Turn Inwards (Knock Kneed)

Illustration of Knock Knees vs Illustration of normal knees

When you bend your knees to squat, do your knees turn inward? This is called a compensation and can be a side effect of an ankle injury not healing properly. With a decrease in ankle mobility, your body changes the way it moves to compensate for the loss of motion. You might be compensating if your ankles rotate inwards (pronate) and your knees and shins rotate inwards too. These compensations can act as contributing factors to more ankle and knee injuries as your body weight is unevenly distributed to other areas.

Can’t Squat Due to Tight Hamstrings

Illustration of person unable to squate due to tight hamstrings Lower Back Rounding Illustration

Squat in front of a mirror, can you see your lower back rounding? Is your pelvis tilting backward? Your ankle injury could be causing tight hamstrings which can make squatting impossible, or you may be unable to squat as deeply as before your ankle injury. Not being able to squat might not seem like a huge loss but, an impaired squatting form can cause other serious lower back issues such as disc herniations and sciatica!

Ankle Injury Treatments

If you think your ankle injury (new or old) may be contributing to your back pain, call us today for a no-obligation appointment to see if physio is right for you.

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