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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Sprained Ankle: Rehabilitation Exercises
are common injuries that can result in lifelong problems. Some people with
repeated or severe sprains can develop long-term joint pain and weakness.
Treating a sprained ankle can help prevent ongoing ankle problems.
Rehabilitation (rehab) exercises are critical
to ensure that the ankle heals completely and reinjury does not occur.
Start each exercise slowly and use your pain level to guide you in
doing these exercises. Ease off the exercise if you have more than mild
pain. Following are some examples of typical rehabilitation (rehab) exercises.
Keep in mind that the timing and type of rehab exercises
recommended for you may vary according to your doctor's or physical therapist's
exercises begin right after your injury. Try doing these exercises then putting ice on your ankle, up to 5 times a day. These are easy to do while you are at a desk or watching TV.
Try the following simple
Towel curls. While sitting, place your foot on a towel on the floor and scrunch the towel toward you with your toes.
Then, also using your toes, push the towel away from you.
Make this exercise more challenging by placing a weighted object, such as a soup can, on the other end of the towel.
Start exercises to stretch
Achilles tendon as soon as you can do so without pain.
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg to
the bone at the base of the heel. Try the towel stretch if you need to sit down, or try the calf stretch if you can stand.
Talk to your doctor
or physical therapist about the timing of
strengthening exercises for the ankle. Typically you
can start them when you are able to stand without increased pain or swelling.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions of these exercises once or twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the severity of
You can usually
start balance and control exercises when you are able to
stand without pain. But talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the
exact timing. Also, don't try these exercises if you could not have done them
easily before your injury. If you think you would have felt unsteady doing
these exercises when your ankle was healthy, you are at risk of falling when
you try them with an injured ankle.
Practice your balance exercise at least once a day, repeating it about 6 times in each session.
Stretching exercises should be continued on a daily basis
and especially before and after physical activities to prevent reinjury. Even
after your ankle feels better, continue with strengthening exercises and
balance and control exercises several times a week to keep your ankles
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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