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If you sprained your ankle, you are not alone. In fact, it is one of the most common injuries that occur among people of all ages and activity levels.

An ankle sprain occurs when the strong ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. The severity of a sprain can vary greatly depending on the number of ligaments involved and the extent to which the ligaments are torn.

Start Reducing Pain with R.I.C.E. 

The good news is most sprains heal with conservative treatments like R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and a few simple rehabilitation exercises within a few days. However, if this does not help reduce swelling, ease pain, and speed up healing it may be time to consider an evaluation by a health care professional or your physical therapist, especially if you have difficulty putting weight on it and any swelling doesn’t reduce.

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After experiencing a sprained ankle, it is important to be careful, not reckless. Don’t try and push through the pain. When your ankle can support your weight, engaging in therapeutic exercises can help to prevent further injury or even the need to seek more urgent medical care.

Simple Exercises to Do at Home

exercises to rehab an ankle sprain progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest orange county garden grove orange fountain valley near me

Below is a list of ankle exercises you may do to help heal your ankle. If you want to know if these movements are right for you or are having questions about how to do these movements, ask one of our highly-skilled physical therapists at Progressive Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation.

These are a few suggested exercises for sprained ankles that can be performed at home. Start with one set of 10 for 10-15 seconds on each leg and gradually increase sets and time.

Range of Motion: Generally, the first type of exercise to do because it places a relatively low amount of stress on your joints. While sitting down, trace letters, numbers, or shapes in the air with the toe of your injured foot. Another exercise would be to place your injured foot flat on the floor, while seated, and gently move your knee back and forth.

Stretching: To improve flexibility and reduce tightness in your ankle, these exercises aim to stretch the muscles around the tendons. Start by sitting on the ground with your leg set flat straight in front you. Then, holding the ends of a towel in both hands, place the towel under the ball of your foot and gently pull toward you, stretching your calf. Keeping your knee straight, hold the position for 10-15 seconds. Stop the exercise if you begin to feel pain, you should feel a little bit of tension in your leg.  Slowly work up to holding the stretch for 1 minute.

Balancing: Regaining your balance after an ankle sprain is important so as to prevent the risk of future injuries. Balance exercises should be done every day regardless, however, if you had issues with balance previous to your ankle injury, you should talk to your physical therapist first before starting these exercises. Use a kitchen counter to steady yourself first. Place your fingers lightly on the back of the counter and then slowly lift one leg. Hold for 10-15 seconds to start and gradually work your way up to 30 seconds. As your balance improves you can try this with your eyes closed. Make sure the counter or other object is nearby in case you become unsteady or feel like you may fall.

Strengthening:  These exercises are designed to help build the muscle directly. Sit down with your leg against a stationary object and push against it, with the ball of your foot. Resistance bands can also be used to create tension and perform the same motions. As a reminder, whenever you do any sort of strength train, never use any more resistance or weight than you feel comfortable using.

These exercises are general suggestions to get you started. No two people are the same and no injuries are the same. If you find your pain isn’t reducing after a few days, consider an evaluation with one of our skilled therapists to help create a personalized rehab program for you. We are here to help.

We are Here to Help

If you have failed PT elsewhere, not seeing improvements or reduction of pain in your current exercise program, or looking to get started and need a little help with setting up a program customized for your situation, give us a call today to schedule an evaluation.

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