Ankle sprains can be a real pain, literally! They can happen to anyone, whether you are an athlete or just out for a leisurely walk. Ankle sprains can put a damper on daily activities and make it hard to walk, not to mention disrupt your fitness routine.
One of the best ways to recover from an ankle sprain is through exercise. But where do you start? In this blog post, we will provide you with some ankle sprain exercises you can do at home to help recover and get back to your daily routine.
My Quick Story
I had to go to an orthopaedic surgeon because I missed the edge of a step and fell down the stairs. After some diagnostics, it was confirmed that I had a high ankle sprain and needed to be in a walking boot cast for several weeks. Ankle injuries are no fun and severe sprains are incredibly painful.
I was out of hockey for a few months and I am so happy I took the time to really rest which meant my inquired leg because if I had rushed into exercises I know I would have been out of hockey even longer. Even once I regained my normal range of motion I still had to work on my balance and ankle strength.
Still to this day, I use a wobble board to help strengthen my weak ankles because I know I am prone to ankle injuries. I hope the following exercises can help you get back on your feet without ankle pain as quickly as possible.
RELATED: How to Workout in A Boot Cast
What Is An Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain is a common musculoskeletal injury that occurs when the ligaments of the ankle that connect bones around the ankle joint are stretched or torn. It is most commonly caused by a sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle, such as during sports activities, running, or walking on an uneven or unstable surface.
Ankle sprains are classified by their severity, ranging from mild stretching of the ligaments to complete tearing. They are also categorized by the location of the injury, which can affect the specific ligaments involved and the mechanisms of injury. For example, a lateral ankle sprain involves the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle, while a medial ankle sprain affects the inner side.
Symptoms of An Ankle Sprain
Symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking or bearing body weight on the affected ankle. Treatment typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged ligaments.
Ankle sprains are a common sports injury, particularly in high-impact sports such as basketball, soccer, and football. They can also occur in everyday activities and are more common in individuals with a history of ankle sprains or decreased ankle stability. Proper conditioning and protective equipment can help reduce the risk of ankle sprains and other injuries.
Various Types and Degrees of Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains are a common injury, but they can vary in severity and location. There are different types of ankle sprains based on the specific ligaments that are affected.
Lateral Ankle Sprain
The most common type of ankle sprain is a lateral ankle sprain. This occurs when the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle are stretched or torn. The ligaments most commonly involved in a lateral ankle sprain are the anterior talofibular ligament, the calcaneofibular ligament, and the posterior talofibular ligament. Lateral ankle sprains comprise about 85% of all ankle sprains.
Medial Ankle Sprain
Another type of ankle sprain is a medial ankle sprain. This occurs when the ligaments on the inner side of the ankle are stretched or torn. The ligaments most commonly involved in a medial ankle sprain are the deltoid ligament and the talonavicular ligament. Medial ankle sprains are less common than lateral ankle sprains, but they can be more serious and take longer to heal.
High Ankle Sprain
A high ankle sprain, also known as a syndesmotic ankle sprain, occurs when the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula bones are stretched or torn. This type of ankle sprain is less common but can be more severe and may take longer to heal than other types of ankle sprains.
Severity Degrees of Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains can also be categorized based on their severity. Grade 1 ankle sprains involve mild stretching of the ligaments, while grade 2 ankle sprains involve partial tearing of the ligaments. Grade 3 are the most severe ankle sprains, involving a complete tear of the ligament.
Understanding the specific type and severity of an ankle sprain is important in developing an appropriate treatment plan. Proper diagnosis and treatment from a physical therapist or orthopedic doctor can help individuals recover faster and reduce the risk of future injuries.
Benefits of Doing Ankle Sprain Exercises at Home
Doing ankle sprain exercises at home can be an effective way to rehabilitate from injury and improve overall ankle health. Doing the exercises in the comfort of one’s own home can make it easier to follow a regular routine and stay consistent with treatment. Additionally, doing the exercises at home can help save time and money that would have otherwise been spent on travel or medical appointments.
When done correctly, ankle sprain exercises at home can help to reduce pain, improve the range of motion, increase stability, and strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the joint. However, it is important to ensure that any exercise program is prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional to ensure its safety and effectiveness for each individual.
The benefits of doing ankle sprain exercises at home:
- Increased range of motion and improved function in the ankle joint.
- Reduced pain and swelling.
- Improved muscle and ligament strength around the joint for increased stability.
- Improved body awareness of position and movement in the ankle, reducing risk of falls.
- Improved flexibility in the ankle joint to reduce muscle tension and pain.
Precautionary Steps Before Exercising with Ankle Sprain
Before starting any type of ankle sprain exercise, it is important to consult a healthcare professional such as a physical therapist to ensure that the exercises are safe and appropriate for each individual.
- Wear supportive shoes with good arch support to help absorb shock and reduce pressure on the joint.
- Use an elastic bandage or ankle brace to provide extra support
- Always follow exercise instructions carefully and move slowly when performing new exercises.
- Stop exercising if there is increased pain or swelling.
- Listen to your body and pay attention to what it’s telling you during exercise.
The 6 Best Ankle Sprain Exercises for at Home
When done correctly, ankle sprain exercises at home can help to reduce pain, improve the range of motion, increase stability, and strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the joint.
A few examples of ankle sprain exercises that can be done at home include:
1) Heel Raises:
Raise up on your toes putting even weight on the ball of your foot and then lower back down slowly for 10-15 repetitions. Once you are starting to gain back function, good balance, and strength you can start putting less weight on your good leg and try a single leg balance.
2) Calf Stretch:
Stand with one leg in front of the other and gently bend the back knee while pushing your heel into the floor for 15-20 seconds. This gentle stretch will feel amazing!
3) Ankle Pumps:
Sit or stand with your feet flat on the ground and flex and point your toes up and down for 10-15 repetitions. This is a great way to practice control and coordination.
4) Towel Stretch:
A towel stretch is an exercise that stretches the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. To do the towel stretch, you will need a thick towel or belt. First, sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you and loop one end of the towel around your toes.
Next, gently pull back on one end of the towel so that it pulls your toes towards you for a deep stretch in your calf muscles and Achilles tendon. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute before releasing and repeating on the other side.
5) Ankle Flexion and Extension:
Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. Bend your ankle up and down for 10-15 repetitions on each side.
6) Ankle Circles:
Move your ankle in circles both clockwise and counterclockwise for 30 seconds in each direction. I found it helpful to sit in a comfortable chair, watch Netflix, and go through the letters of the alphabet.
Sprained Ankle Exercise Tips:
These exercises should be done slowly and with good form, gradually increasing intensity as the ankle sprain heals. It is important to listen to your body and take breaks if needed to ensure that you are not pushing yourself too hard or causing more pain or discomfort.
These exercises can be done several times each day to help improve flexibility in your lower leg muscles and tendons which can reduce pain from ankle sprains or inflammation caused by conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
Why ankle rehabilitation exercises are important for treating ankle sprains?
Exercises are important for treating ankle sprains because they help to restore strength, flexibility, and balance in the affected ankle. After an ankle sprain, the muscles and ligaments around the joint can become weakened and stiff, which can lead to repeated injuries and chronic ankle instability.
A physical therapy program that includes exercises for ankle sprains can help to improve the range of motion and function of the ankle joint while reducing pain and swelling. Strengthening exercises, such as ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, can help to rebuild muscle and ligament strength around the joint, which can improve stability and prevent future injuries.
Balance and proprioception exercises, such as single-leg standing and ankle circles, can help to improve the body’s awareness of position and movement in the ankle, which can reduce the risk of falls and improve overall movement patterns. Additionally, stretching exercises can help to improve flexibility in the ankle joint, which can improve the range of motion and reduce muscle tension and pain.
It is important to note that exercises should be prescribed and monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, to ensure that they are safe and effective for each individual.
Overdoing exercises or participating in activities that are too strenuous can exacerbate the injury and delay healing. A comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes a combination of exercises, rest, and rehabilitation techniques can help individuals recover from ankle sprains faster and return to their daily activities with increased confidence and mobility.
By following a regular exercise routine, individuals can help ensure that they are able to recover quickly from an ankle sprain while also reducing the risk of future injuries. Doing ankle sprain exercises at home can be an effective way to rehabilitate from injury and improve overall ankle health. However, it is important to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before starting any type of exercise program as to avoid causing further injury.
While ankle sprain exercises at home can be effective in reducing pain, improving ankle range of motion, increasing stability, and strengthening lower leg muscles and ligaments, it is important to note that every individual is unique and may require specific guidance in terms of exercise routine.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to seek professional medical advice to ensure that the ankle sprain exercises recommended for an individual are safe and suitable for them.
It is understandable that individuals with an injured ankle may want to recover quickly and resume their daily activities as soon as possible. However, pushing oneself too hard too soon can lead to further complications or even prolonged recovery.
Rest and gradual progression of exercise intensity and increased repetitions of these exercises are both crucial components of the healing process.
Your sprained ankle may require medical intervention such as braces, casts, medication, or physical therapy to heal properly. If an individual experiences persistent pain or swelling, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any serious underlying issues.
In conclusion, while ankle sprain exercises at home can be beneficial, it is crucial to seek medical advice and follow a customized exercise plan that is appropriate for each individual.
By doing so, one can ensure proper healing and prevent future injuries. Remember to listen to your body and take breaks as needed, as rest is just as important as exercise in the recovery process.
Q. How long do ankle sprain exercises take to recover?
A. The length of time required for recovery can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the individual’s health history.
It may take anywhere from two weeks to heal a minor sprain and anywhere from six to 12 weeks to heal a severe sprain.
Generally, it is recommended to follow a rehabilitation program that progresses gradually over several weeks as needed until full range of motion and strength are restored in the affected area.
Q. What activities should be avoided after an ankle sprain?
A. Activities that involve heavy loading or high impact on the affected area, such as running or jumping, should be avoided until full range of motion and strength is restored in the injured area.
It is important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed during rehabilitation to ensure proper healing without any further complications.
Q. When should a healthcare professional be consulted for an ankle sprain?
A. A qualified medical professional such as a physical therapist should always be consulted if there is persistent pain or swelling associated with the injury, even after following an exercise program for recovery at home.
A comprehensive rehabilitation program can help restore the range of motion, strength, and stability in the affected area. Additionally, a qualified healthcare provider may also recommend additional treatments such as bracing, medications, or physical therapy for better recovery.