|Simple ankle sprains, the ones that you “walk off” or heal in less than two weeks are rarely properly rehabilitated. Often once the pain is gone and you are able to resume normal use, the problem is considered gone, until the next time it happens. This guide is to help strengthen your ankles to avoid a repeat sprain.
Before we start to discuss rehab, let’s look at the anatomy of an ankle sprain. The most common ankle sprains are Inversion Sprains. Wherein you stretch the lateral ligaments of the foot, or in more common terms. The injury happens with the foot turned in, damaging the ligaments on the outside of your foot. Most commonly is the anterior talofibular ligament. Typically with these sprains there may be minor or no swelling at all.
Below are some suggestions for strengthening the ankles to avoid re-injury. These are not for treatment immediately following an acute sprain. If you have an acute sprain contact a healthcare professional for the best type of treatment for your injury. These instructions can also help improve balance.
Test for your starting point:
Stand on 1 foot for up to 60 seconds. Stop as soon as you start to wobble or become unstable. Note the length of time. Then, repeat the exercise with the other foot. If the amount of time was less than 60 seconds start at Beginner, if more than 60 seconds go to Intermediate.
Note: For safety always do these exercises near a wall or chair you can hold onto, if you suddenly need support. This exercise is best done barefoot if possible.
3-4 Times a day: attempt to stand on each foot for up to 60 seconds. If you start to wobble consistently, put the other foot down, rest for 30-60 seconds and try again. You are likely to have small wobbles during this exercise those are OK but remember the goal is to strengthen the ankle and large wobbles might re-injure it instead.
Once you can stand on each ankle for 60 seconds without wobbles move to the Intermediate level.
3-4 times a day attempt to stand on each foot for 60 seconds with your eyes closed. Everything is the same as the Beginner exercise except you will have your eyes closed.
Once you can stand on each ankle for 60 seconds without wobbles move to the next level.
Rehab Advanced: with variations
Start with same exercises as above on an uneven surface such as a Balance Pad.
Variations are: Doing the exercise with eyes closed; holding weights in hands; or moving arms in circles while holding weights