Ankle sprains can happen to anyone, whether you’re a serious athlete or a walking enthusiast. When you sprain your ankle, the ligaments that support your ankle joint are stretched beyond their limits and can cause pain and swelling.
After an ankle sprain, it’s important to stay off it for the first three days. You can also treat it with ice and over the counter pain medications to help with the pain and swelling. However, after those first few days are over, at-home exercises and physical therapy are going to be the key to strengthening your ankle to prevent future sprains.
Our expert team at Prairie Garden Medical in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, offer five tips to help you get strength back in your ankle.
Depending on the severity of your sprain, your provider will most likely prescribe an ankle brace for you to wear in order to provide stability to your ankle while it heals. By making sure that your ankle joint is stable, you’ll mitigate your risk of re-spraining it while your ankle is trying to heal and regain its strength.
We provide you with some stretching exercises to do that will keep your Achilles tendon from constricting. A tight Achilles tendon can interfere with the strength of your ankle, so it’s important to do all the recommended stretches.
Exercises for your Achilles tendon include calf stretches with a towel, standing heel raises, and ankle pumps.
When you sprain your ankle, nerve fibers are damaged and your brain needs to work out where your ankle is and how to move it.
Exercises for balance will include standing on your injured ankle for 30 seconds at a time and then slowly working up to 60 seconds. You can try leaning against a door frame to start; when you feel ready, you can do it with your eyes closed to really work on your balance.
Doing certain exercises to encourage range of motion about 5 times a day will help you to regain flexibility in your ankle. A couple of tried-and-true exercises are the “ankle alphabet” and knee motion.
The ankle alphabet involves pointing out your big toe and writing out the alphabet in the air with your foot. This will get your ankle moving in all directions and you can repeat it 2-3 times as long as you don’t have pain while doing it.
For the knee motion exercise, you’ll sit in a chair with your foot flat on the floor. Gently move your knee back and forth to get the ligaments in your ankle moving.
Once you feel like you’ve regained some balance and range of motion in your ankle, you can move on to some weight-bearing activities to get your strength back, like seated calf raises and standing weight shifts. These will add significant strain to your ankle, so make sure you don’t have a lot of pain and swelling when you stand before you begin these exercises.
Even after you feel like your ankle has healed, it’s important to keep up with all the stretching, balance, and strengthening exercises to prevent your ankle from injury in the future.
If you’ve recently sprained your ankle and need medical help to get strength back in your ankle joint, call our office located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or use our online scheduler to request an appointment today.