Ankle sprain exercises to do at home

Suffered an ankle sprain? In this article we will go over how you can tell an ankle sprain vs an ankle break, and some simple exercises you can do at home to help alleviate pain associated with ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains are unfortunately common. They are the most common injuries in sport, with a rate of 7 sprains per 1,000 people in basketball, and with high recurrence rates. 

They are also easily injured outside of sport, due to the ankles in general having to support nearly all body weight. Outside of high-activity sports that may facilitate ankle sprains, other factors such as obesity can significantly increase the risk of ankle sprains because of the increased loads it exerts on the ankle.

Is it an ankle sprain or an ankle break?

For those who don’t have experience, it may be hard to differentiate between an ankle sprain and an ankle break after an injury occurs. 

As a rule of thumb, the majority of injuries tend to be of the far less severe sprain variety, which involve ligament damage rather than damage to bones themselves.

Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments around the ankle joint are stretched or torn due to sudden twisting or rolling of the foot. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty bearing weight, and limited range of motion. 

To help deal with a sprained ankle in the short term, it is best to follow the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Rest the ankle to allow for healing, apply ice to reduce swelling, compress with an elastic bandage, and elevate the ankle. 

Broken Ankle 

A broken ankle involves a fracture in one or more of the ankle bones, namely the tibia, fibula or talus. More severe injuries usually involve multiple fractures. Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, bruising, inability to bear weight, and sometimes visible bone protrusion. If you suspect an ankle is broken, then seek medical assistance as quickly as you can.

Easy exercises for a sprained ankle

Here are some key exercises to perform after an ankle sprain. Remember, exercises should always be pain free for maximum benefit, and to prevent further injury. As a result, these exercises should only be used later than a few days after the injury, when the ankle is firmly in its healing phase.

  • Towel stretch: with a small towel at home - or even better, an elastic band - sit down on the floor and stretch your legs flat on the floor ahead of you. Loop the towel or band around the ball of your injured foot, and pull gently on it, to stretch that calf and to lightly generate movement in the ankle area. Repeat.
  • Trace the alphabet: sitting or lying down, simply try to trace each letter of the alphabet in the air with your injured foot. This should assist in restoring full range of movement to the injured ankle.
  • Resisted Plantar Flexion: sitting down on the floor, stretch your legs out, placing your injured foot on top of your healthy foot. Push down to the floor with your injured foot, whilst resisting the movement with your good foot by pushing upwards. Continue, holding for 5 seconds at a time. Repeat.
  • Resisted Inversion: sitting down on the floor, stretch your legs out, and place your feet next to one another without crossing your legs. Push your injured foot against your healthy foot, and simultaneously lightly resist the motion with your healthy foot. Hold for 5 seconds at a time. Repeat.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of these conditions is crucial for seeking timely medical attention. Mr Francesc Malagelada is dedicated to diagnosing and treating various foot and ankle conditions, providing personalised treatment plans to address your specific needs and help you get back on your feet comfortably. Contact us and book an appointment today!

Keep in mind that our blog is also a great place if you’d like to stay updated on the latest orthopaedic news.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your physician for personalised guidance. In case of a medical emergency, contact your doctor or emergency services.