Ankle Sprain Stretches

1
Ankle Range of Motion Exercises

Photo of woman's ankle on treadmill.
Your PT can help prescribe the right exercise program for your ankle injury. Peopleimages.com/Getty Images

Early stretching is an important first step in the rehabilitation process after sustaining an ankle sprain. With the prolonged period of rest that is required after suffering an ankle sprain, the muscles around the ankle often become shortened and tight. This results in decreased range of motion (ROM) around the ankle joint. To get moving again and to prevent repeated injury, it is important to begin gentle stretches of your injured ankle as soon as approved by your physician. There are four basic stretches of the ankle that should be performed.

Before starting these - or any other ankle exercise program - you must check in with your doctor. Your PT can also help guide you through exercises after an ankle sprain.

2
Plantar Flexion

Image by: Dr. Laura Inverarity

Ankle plantar flexion is the direction of motion that is pointing your toes away from you. When you step on the gas pedal in your car, you are performing plantar flexion. This motion may become limited after an ankle sprain or after a period of immobilization after an ankle injury.

Here is how you improve plantar flexion ROM in your ankle:

  1. Push your foot forward away from you (while keeping knees straight) by moving your ankle. Continue until either discomfort is felt, or you can no longer bend your foot forward.
  2. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  3. Return to neutral position.
  4. Repeat above steps 10 more times.

Be sure to monitor your symptoms, and stop if you feel intense pain.

3
Dorsi Flexion

Image by: Dr. Laura Inverarity

Dorsiflexion flexion is the motion of pulling your toes and ankle up towards your face. Your anterior tibialis muscle helps to dorsi flex your foot, and weakness here may cause foot drop. Tightness in your calf can also limit your dorsi flexion ROM.

Here is how you improve your ROM into dorsi flexion after an ankle injury:

  1. Pull your foot back toward you (while keeping knees straight) by moving your ankle. Continue until either discomfort is felt or you can no longer pull your foot back.
  2. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  3. Return to neutral position.
  4. Repeat above steps 10 more times.

4
Inversion

Image by: Dr. Laura Inverarity

Most ankle sprains occur when your foot turns inward too much - a motion called inversion -  and the ligaments on the outside part of your ankle are overstretched or torn. Even so, after a period of immobilization after an ankle sprain or ankle fracture, you may have limited inversion ROM.

Here is a simple way to improve inversion ROM:

  1. Turn your foot inward. Continue until either discomfort is felt or you can no longer turn your foot inward.
  2. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  3. Return to neutral position.
  4. Repeat above steps 10 more times.

If you feel sharp pain on the outer side of your ankle, stop the exercise; you may be over stretching your ankle's lateral ligaments.

5
Eversion

Eversion ROM is the act of moving your foot outwards. Sometimes after a period of immobilization, your eversion ROM becomes limited. Here is how you regain that motion:

  1. Turn your foot outward by moving your ankle. Continue until either discomfort is felt or you can no longer turn your foot inward.
  2. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  3. Return to neutral position.
  4. Repeat above steps 10 more times.

Ankle ROM exercises are pretty simple to do, and after an injury like a sprain or fracture, they can be done 2 to 3 times per day to help regain normal ankle mobility.

Once your ankle ROM has improved, your PT will likely progress you rehab with ankle strengthening exercises, proprioception and balance exercise, and plyomterics to get you back to 100% mobility.

If you have an ankle injury, check with your doctor and PT, and then start some ankle ROM exercises to help you get back to your normal activity level quickly and safely.

Edited by Brett Sears, PT.

Source:
American Family Physician, Vol. 74 No. 10, Exercising Your Ankle After a Sprain

Continue Reading