Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.
Information from Your Family Doctor
Exercising Your Ankle After a Sprain
FREE PREVIEW. AAFP members and paid subscribers: Log in to get free access. All others: Purchase online access.
FREE PREVIEW. Purchase online access to read the full version of this article.
Am Fam Physician. 2006 Nov 15;74(10):1725-1726.
See related article on ankle sprains.
Why do I need to exercise my ankle after a sprain?
Exercising can help make it stronger and move better.
What exercises should I do?
If your doctor says it's okay, you should try the following exercises. Ask your doctor if you need help with the exercises.
Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Move your ankle from side to side, up and down, and around in circles. Do five to 10 circles in each direction at least three times a day.
Using your big toe as a “pencil”, try to write the letters of the alphabet in the air. Do the entire alphabet two or three times.
Pull your toes back toward you while keeping your knee as straight as you can. Hold for 15 seconds. Do this 10 times.
Point your toes away from you while keeping your knee as straight as you can. Hold for 15 seconds. Do this 10 times.
IN AND OUT
Turn your foot inward until you can't turn it anymore and hold for 15 seconds. Straighten your leg again. Turn it outward until you can't turn it anymore and hold for 15 seconds. Do this 10 times in both directions.
RESISTED IN AND OUT
Sit on a chair with your leg straight in front of you. Tie a large elastic exercise band together at one end to make a knot. Wrap the knot end of the band around a chair leg and the other end around the bottom of your injured foot. Keep your heel on the ground and slide your foot outward and hold for 10 seconds. Put your foot in front of you again. Slide your foot inward and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat at least 10 times each direction two or three times a day.
Put your injured foot on the first step of a staircase and your uninjured foot on the ground. Slowly straighten the knee of your injured leg while lifting your uninjured foot off of the ground. Slowly put your uninjured foot back on the ground. Do this three to five times at least three times a day.
SITTING AND STANDING HEEL RAISES
Sit in a chair with your injured foot on the ground. Slowly raise the heel of your injured foot while keeping your toes on the ground. Return the heel to the floor. Repeat 10 times at least two or three times a day. As you get stronger, you can stand on your injured foot instead of sitting in a chair and raise the heel. Your uninjured foot should always stay on the ground.
Stand and place a chair next to your uninjured leg to balance you. At first, stand on the injured foot for only 30 seconds. You can slowly increase this to up to three minutes at a time. Repeat at least three times a day. For more difficulty, repeat with your eyes closed.
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact email@example.com for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions