Ankle Sprain Strengthening Exercises
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Simple ankle strengthening exercises which can be included in an ankle sprain rehabilitation program.
The following strengthening guide is intended for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice. Ankle strengthening exercises can begin as soon as pain allows. In the early stages of strengthening any exercises which involve sideways movements at the ankle you should avoided.
Loop a resistance band around the forefoot and hold onto the ends. Point the foot away slowly allowing it to return to a resting position. Aim for 10-20 reps and 3 sets with a short rest in between. Once this exercise feels easy, you can increase the strength of the resistance band or progress on to full calf raise exercises. This exercise can be repeated with a bent knee to target the soleus muscle lower down the calf area.
Play resistance band plantar flexion video.
Using a rehabilitation band pull the foot and toes up against resistance and then down again. Aim for 10 to 20 repetitions and 3 sets with a short rest in between. This is an important strengthening exercise, however it is important not to over do this one. Remember you will still have to walk on the ankle after the strengthen session so do not take the ankle to fatigue. Over time this may also lead to pain in the front of the shin - less is probably more with this exercise.
Play resistance band dorsi flexion exercise video.
Isometric eversion and inversion
Once you can do so pain free, try exercises involving eversion and inversion to help strengthen the muscles which help to control the 'rolling' action at the ankle. Isometric means there is no movement at the joint throughout the exercise. A partner or therapist can provide resistance with the hands, or use a wall or chair leg.
For eversion the athlete should try turning the ankle out against resistance. For inversion, inwards against resistance. Hold for 5 seconds, rest for 3 seconds and repeat initially 3 times and gradually increase up to 10 times. As strength improves, this can be extended using a partner or therapist into a more dynamic action of the therapist moving their hands against the ankle which much react to prevent it moving.
Play isometric ankle exercises video.
Resisted eccentric inversion
This exercise is particularly important in helping to prevent injury recurring. The athlete attempts to resist the therapist everting or turning the foot outwards. It strengthens the muscles which stabilize the ankle just at the point where it would roll over or sprain. A therapist or partner is needed for this exercise to be done effectively. They should not apply too much resistance initially but gradually build up.
Play resisted eccentric inversion video.
This exercise will strengthen the calf muscles which consist of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Rise up and down on the toes in a smooth movement. You should be able to progress quite quickly with this one but aim for 3 sets of 10 and build up steadily, a few each day.
Once you find this quite easy, start performing the exercise on one leg only. This will feel a lot harder, so start with low reps again and gradually increase. You can also perform these on a step as shown in the video, allowing the heel to drop down past the level of the step.
Play calf raise exercise video.