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Ankle Rehabilitation and Exercises
Therapeutic exercise has been found to significantly reduce recovery time for mild and moderate ankle sprains. If ankle ligaments do not heal properly, they can become weak and unstable and give out with only minor trauma. Rehabilitation exercises can help repair and strengthen injured ligaments. The following are a few exercises that your doctor may suggest to help your recovery. None of these should be performed without the approval of your physician. Your doctor may also prescribe formal physical therapy. Each exercise should be done slowly and without pain:
This exercise will help to increase your range of motion (ROM). Sit with your foot hanging off the edge of a table, or prop it up on some pillows so the ankle is in the air. Then trace the alphabet with your toes. This will encourage movement in all directions.
While seated in a chair with your foot on the ground, take a rolled up towel and place in the ball of your foot. Gently pull back on both ends of the towel bringing your toes towards you until you feel a light painless stretch. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then repeat 3 to 5 times.
While seated in a chair place a hand towel on the floor. The surface should be smooth, such as a tile or wooden floor (carpet is not recommended). While keeping your heel on the ground, curl your toes and grab the towel with your toes to scrunch the towel. Let go, and continue scrunching up the entire length of the towel. When you reach the end of the towel, reverse the action by grabbing the towel with your toes, scrunching it, and pushing it away from you. Repeat, until you have pushed the entire length of the towel away from you.
Now take the same towel again. Seated in a chair with your heel on the ground, lift your foot, turn it inward, place it on the towel, then slide the towel outward. Repeat this until you have gone the entire length of the towel. Then stretch the towel out on the other side and repeat in the opposite direction.
With the same towel, stretch the towel out on the other side and repeat in the opposite direction.
Sitting in a chair with your foot flat on the ground, lift your toes slowly, leaving your heel on the ground, then lower them and repeat 15 to 20 times.
Two Legged Quarter Squats:
If weight bearing can be tolerated, stand upright with equal pressure on both legs. Slightly bend your knees 20 to 30 degrees then stand back upright. Repeat exercise 15 to 20 times.
If weight bearing can be tolerated, stand upright with equal pressure on both legs. Slowly shift your weight to the side of your injured ankle then return to the center position. Repeat exercise 15 to 20 times.
One Leg Standing and Quarter Squats:
If weight bearing is tolerated, stand on your injured leg while lifting the non-involved leg off the ground. Putting your arms across your chest, balance on the one leg for 60 seconds. If this is tolerated without discomfort, in the same position, slowly bend the leg you are standing on at the knee 20 to 30 degrees, then immediately return to the upright position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
If weight bearing is tolerated, stand on the edge of a stair, make sure you have some type of railing or handles to balance yourself. Push off your toes to raise your heels, then lower, returning to the start position. Repeat exercise 15 to 20 times.