Ankle sprains are one of the most common orthopedic injuries. They occur when the ligaments that help support the ankle get overstretched or torn. Ankle injuries are not just limited to athletes, because even walking on an uneven surface can cause some strain on the ankles.
If you have ever suffered an ankle injury, you know that there are two kinds. There is the kind that you can walk off, but you still feel some pain, and then there is the kind that leaves you unable to walk or put any weight on that ankle. If you are unable to weight bear immediately after injuring your ankle, you need to look into it more carefully because there could be something more serious going on, such as a broken or fractured bone. If you are unsure if you should get an X-Ray or not, we recommend you check out the Ottawa Ankle Rules and then see a medical professional.
If you are still able to bear weight, you are less likely to have broken something. The best thing to do for the ankle in this situation is to not stress it for several weeks after. The general recommendations are to decrease impact weight bearing such as running or jumping, keep the ankle moving gently, ice/heat, rest and compression. Physical therapy can be beneficial immediately following an ankle sprain to help with swelling control, mobility and range of motion. When appropriate, strengthening and functional training can be added back in.
With the help of our trained physical therapists and strength coaches, we aim to help increase your strength, balance, and coordination so that you can stay active and potentially ankle injury free for the rest of your life.
Some recommended exercises and treatments we suggest to our patients are…
Elastic band work
With the help of a resistance band, there are four exercises you can do to help strengthen your ankle in all directions. Resistance bands work by adding an external resistance just by pulling it away from where the force is being applied. Once you wrap the resistance band around the base of the foot and pull, you can try the following:
This involves pulling your toes towards your body with the help of the resistance band in order to work the muscles that support the front of the ankle.
This involves pushing your foot forward while pulling the resistance band toward you. This helps strengthen the arch of the foot and calf muscles.
This involves turning the foot out (towards your little toe) with the resistance from the band.
This involves turning the foot in (in the direction of your big toe) with the resistance from the band.
These four exercises help really strengthen all sides of the ankle for better strength and stability.
Single leg and Bosu Ball balance
Balancing helps strengthen in the ankle in all directions and is an important functional movement to get back after an injury.
Easing slowly back into sport-specific movements is very important. Agility exercises like ladders, step ups, and jumps are a great transition to get you back into those sorts of movements. It is also important to practice cutting and planting the foot so that the ankle can get used to the frequent changes of direction and strengthen back to normal.
Before attempting any of these exercises, we recommend first learning proper form from either one of our trained physical therapists or strength coaches here at Tensegrity Physical Therapy. If you would like a one-on-one personalized treatment plan to help deal with your ankle sprain/injury, book an appointment today by calling 541-338-7088 or visiting our contact page.