Six Exercises to Strengthen a Weak or Sprained Ankle

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Ankle sprains account for 40% of all sports-related ankle injuries (Bergman, et al. 2019). It is an injury that can take months to heal due to the poor blood supply of the ligaments. I am experiencing this first-hand right now, because I thought it was a great idea to be a cool 35 year-old dad and pull some “rad” moves at the skatepark. The most common ankle sprain injury—and the type that occurred to me—is an  inversion ankle sprain and results in stretched or partially torn anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular ligaments. The severity of the injury is classified on a Grade I – III scale (Wolfe, et al. 2001):

  • Grade I: Stretching or partial tear with minimal loss of function
  • Grade II: Partial tear with moderate loss of function
  • Grade III: Complete tear and loss of integrity with ligament

Immediately after the injury, follow the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Once the ankle is able to bear weight and bruising, swelling, and pain have gone down; it is time to start performing exercises that will bring back optimal range of motion and build strength. Below are six exercises to accelerate your healing process. Click here for an instructional video.

  1. “Write” the alphabet with your foot in the air
  2. Balance on the injured foot—increase time to 1 minute
  3. Single Leg Hip Hinge
  4. Balance on the injured foot with eyes closed—increase time to 1 minute
  5. Balance on the injured foot while standing on a blue inflated disk
  6. Single Leg Hip Hinge on the blue inflated disk

These exercises will not only help rehabilitate the injury, but will improve proprioception by creating more innervation pathways to the ankle (Wolfe, et al. 2001). This will result in a quicker correction during situations where you might feel your ankle about to roll. So, the next time you’re walking along and encounter a crack in the sidewalk that throws your ankle into the horrible beginnings of an inversion sprain, you’ll be able to stop the roll before it does damage to your precious ligaments.

References:

Bergman, D. et al. “Ankle Sprains—A Common Life and Sports Injury.” Orthopedics New England. 2019. https://www.orthopedicsne.com/ankle-sprains-a-common-life-and-sports-injury/

Wolfe, M. et al. “Management of Ankle Sprains.” American Family Physician. 2001. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0101/p93.html

Sam Skelton

About the Author:

Sam Skelton has been a Program Manager at Synaptics for 6 years and has been with BaySport for 10 years. He holds his ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist certificate and has a goal to do 10 push-ups with his sons on his back—a total of an extra 100 lbs. When he’s not trying to rehab his bad ankle, he is busy wrangling his 5 and 8 year old boys, and getting his “honey do” list done every day.

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