Am Fam Physician. 2006;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.