Ankle sprains are common injuries that can lead to lifelong issues if not healed properly. Rehabilitation exercises are vital to the recovery process and are instrumental to prevent recurring and ongoing ankle problems.
As soon as your doctor says it’s ok, you should start bearing some weight on your foot unless it causes you too much pain. If you need to, use crutches to move around. In the first three days, you should begin stretching and doing balance and range-of-motion exercises. Most of these exercises can be done in your home, or in your doctor’s office, and you should use your pain level to gauge how far you should push your ankle.
Range-of-motion exercises can be done up to five times a day and should be performed while icing your ankle. Tracing the alphabet with your toes will encourage ankle movement in all directions, testing your mobility, and can be repeated several times as you sit on your couch or eat dinner. While you are sitting, you can also perform towel curls by placing your foot on a towel and moving the edge of the towel towards you with your toes. Repeat this as necessary, and to add a challenge, you can place an object like a water bottle or soup can on the towel.
Stretching your Achilles tendon should begin as soon as you can without feeling pain. You can stretch the tendon while sitting or standing. If you can stand without pain, you can stretch out your calf. Stand facing a wall with your hands at eye level. The leg you are stretching should be one step behind your other leg. Bend your front knee until you can feel stretching, with your back heel planted on the floor. Hold your position for thirty seconds, and repeat several times with your back knee bent slightly to stretch other parts of your muscles. If standing is too painful, you can sit on the floor with your leg straight ahead of you. Place the ball of your foot on top of a rolled towel and pull the towel towards you, while keeping your leg straight. This can be repeated up to four times, and you can use a tennis ball instead of a towel. It’s important not to push your ankle, and if you feel pain, stop.
Balance and control exercises can be done based on the degree of your injury and your skills before you got hurt. If you could not do balance exercises successfully prior to getting hurt, you should not attempt them as you heal. Talk to your doctor before starting these exercises, and once you can start, perform them once a day. Stand on your injured foot with your arms held out to your side, balancing as long as you can up to 60 seconds. After you can do this, wrap your arms around your chest, and then repeat with your eyes closed.
Timing and the type of exercise you are prescribed may vary based on your doctor’s preferences and the severity of your injury. In order to determine which exercises will be best for your ankle, you should contact Dr. Thapar of Ankle and Foot Specialist of New Jersey. Dr. Thapar will examine your ankle and determine the severity of your sprain before recommending a exercise regimen to heal. Give us a call at (908) 222-8980, (732) 356-FOOT (3668) or request an appointment with our Warren or South Plainfield office (right on the border with Edison) online today.