Ankle sprains can be quite painful, but it is crucial to get moving again as soon as you can. It’s normal for your ankle to feel stiff and tender. The quicker you can begin rehabilitation exercises, the faster you will heal and resume normal activities.
Ankle sprains are common, but you should seek treatment for even a minor sprain. Most people should be able to begin rehabilitation exercises about three days after the injury. The goals of rehabilitation exercises are to regain range of motion, stretch and strengthen the ankle and surrounding muscles, and recover balance and control. Always listen to your body and follow the advice of your health care professional. Combine ankle sprain exercises and physiotherapy treatments to aid your recovery process.
Here are thirteen ankle sprain exercises to help rehabilitation:
Exercise #1: Ankle Alphabet
Sit in a comfortable position. With your leg extended in front of you, use your big toe to pretend to draw each alphabet letter in the air. If you do not experience pain, repeat the whole alphabet 2 or 3 times.
Exercise #2: Towel Scrunches
Start by sitting in a chair with a towel on the floor in front of you. Put your foot on the towel and use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. Next, push the towel away from you, also using your toes. Once ready to make this exercise more challenging, you can place a soup can or another weighted object on the towel.
Exercise #3: Calf Stretches
Stand facing a wall, countertop or back of a chair for balance support. Place your injured ankle one step back from your uninjured foot. Keep your back heel on the floor. Bend your knee slowly until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
Exercise #4: Chair Lunges
This exercise is similar to the calf stretch but will help increase flexibility even more. Stand in front of a chair and place your injured ankle on the seat. With your knee bent, shift your weight forward, so your knee extends over the top of your toes. Push as far as you can into this stretch, but always stop if you experience any pain. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it three times.
Exercise #5: Calf or Heel Raises
Start standing and place your hands in front of you, touching a wall, countertop, or chair’s back for balance. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly rise on your toes, and then come back down to flat feet. Repeat ten times.
Exercise #6: Side-to-Side Knee Swings
This exercise will help stretch and relax your ankle’s tendons and ligaments. Start in a comfortable seated position with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly swing your knees from side to side, keeping your feet flat. Keep doing the side-to-side swings for 2 to 3 minutes.
Exercise #7: Towel Stretches
This stretch will help to loosen and relax your calf muscles. Sit comfortably with your legs stretched out in front of you. Place a towel or yoga strap around the ball of your foot. Gently pull the towel or strap, guiding your toes back towards yourself. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds.
Exercise #8: One Leg Balancing
Stand near the wall, countertop, or another stationary object to hold for balance. Stand on the injured foot. Lift your other leg until all your weight rests on the injured ankle. Hold for 30 seconds. Try to progress to balancing on the leg without holding on to anything.
Exercise #9: Pillow Balancing
Once you are good at the above balancing exercise, try to do the same exercise while standing on a pillow. You will probably wobble around and find the exercise much harder, but it will help increase your strength. Stop if you feel any discomfort.
Exercise #10: Resistance Band – Push
Start by sitting on the floor. Place a rolled-up towel under your calf to raise your heel off the floor. Wrap the resistance band around the ball of your foot. Push forward with your foot against the band like you are trying to point your toes, then slowly bring it back. Repeat this ten times.
Exercise #11: Resistance Band – Pull
Tie your resistance band around something stable, such as a desk or table leg. Hook the elastic around the top of your foot while sitting on the floor. Slowly flex your foot back towards yourself, then release. Repeat this ten times.
Exercise #12: Resistance Band – Inversion
With your resistance band still attached to something stable, begin with your foot inside the band. Gently turn your ankle to point your foot outwards. Return to starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Exercise #13: Resistance Band – Eversion
Continue like the exercise above, except this time, turn your foot to the inside and then return to neutral. As above, repeat this ten times. Start seated with your legs stretched in front of you. Move the injured ankle in circles. Do this five times in each direction. Flex the ankle, pulling your toes towards you and then pointing them away. Repeat these movements five times.