May 11, 2016

10 exercises to strengthen your ankle

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Ankle sprains account for almost half of all sports injuries and are a common reason why players take time off from activities.

An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments in the ankle. These strong fibrous bands hold together the bones of the ankle and are prone to injury during strenuous movement and repetitive activity. There are two categories of ankle ligaments: those on the outer and those on the inner surfaces of the ankle. The most common sites of injury are in the outer – or “lateral” – ankle ligaments.

More than 80 percent of ankle sprains are a result of inversion, or inward rolling, of the ankle. This is commonly experienced in activities that involve running, pivoting and jumping. While sudden, forceful movements are certainly the cause of many ankle sprains. Common signs and symptoms of an ankle sprain include swelling, pain, instability and bruising.

Ankle sprains are generally categorized into three grades:

Grade I: The most common type; these are associated with a mild degree of swelling and pain related to stretching of the ligament.

Grade II: More commonly seen, these are associated with a moderate degree of swelling and pain and are related to an incomplete tear of the ligaments.

Grade III: The most severe of ankle sprains; these are associated with significant swelling and pain and are related to complete tear of the ligaments.

Initial treatment

Initial treatment includes four common concepts referred to as R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Relative rest or discontinuation of athletics is often necessary. Ice bags applied at 20-minute intervals three times per day for at least 72 hours post injury, along with compression and elevation, can help reduce swelling and pain. A thorough evaluation by a medical expert will help determine other possible treatments, including bracing, taping and anti-inflammatory medications.

Most ankle sprains heal within 2 to 6 weeks, however severe sprains many take as long as 12 weeks.

One must do all the below exercises in order to strengthen the ankle but in case of previous ankle injury one must consult with the physician and then go ahead with exercises.

Range-of-motion exercises (non-weight bearing)

Non weight bearing exercising are best to get your ankle in motion. These exercises will help in strengthening the ankle without putting so much pressure on muscles. One can do these exercises at any place and any time.

  1. Dorsiflexion

Point your foot towards your nose (while keeping knees straight).p1

Continue until you feel discomfort or can’t tilt it any further.

1.) Hold this position for 5 seconds.
2.) Return to neutral position.
3.) Repeat 5 times.

 

 

  1. Plantar flexion

Point your foot down (towards a bed/ floor). Continue up2ntil you feel discomfort or can’t move it any further.

1.) Hold this position for 5 seconds.
2.) Return to neutral position.
3.) Repeat 5 times.

 

 

3. Eversion

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Keeping your toes pointed up, turn your foot outward, away from your other leg. Continue until either discomfort is felt or you can no longer turn your foot outward.

1.) Hold this position for 5 seconds.
2.) Return to neutral position.
3.) Repeat 5 times.

 

  1. The Alphabet

1.) Sit on a chair with your foot dangling in the air or on a bed with your foot hanging off the edge.
2.) Draw the alphabet one letter at a time by moving the injured ankle and using the great toe as your “pencil.”

 

Resisted Strengthening Exercises

After the set of non weight bearing exercises, time to go one step ahead. In resistance strengthening one should  make use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength. Therabands are the perfect tool for resistance training which helps in increasng strength, mobility, and function, as well as reduce joint pain along with improving athletic performance.

  1. Dorsiflexion

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1.) Attach the theraband or a towel to a bed’s footboard. Make a loop.
2.) Place your foot in a loop.
3.) Pull your foot towards your nose until you feel a resistance.
4.) Hold this position for 10 seconds.
5.) Return to neutral position.

 

 

  1. Plantar flexion

t2
1.) Hold a Theraband or a towel in your hands
2.) Place the theraband at the sole of your foot and pull it gently towards your nose.
3.) Push your foot against the ‘pull’.
4.) Hold this position for 10 seconds.
5.) Return to neutral position

 

  1. Eversion

exersion t

 

As above but move your hands close to your opposite knee.

1.) Turn your foot outward, away from your other leg.
2.) Hold this position for 10 seconds.
3.) Return to neutral position.

 

 

Full Weight-Bearing Exercises

The exercises given below use entire body weight in order to strengthen the ankle muscle. One must follow the flow of exercises in order to avoid injuries.

  1. Single Leg Stance

1.) Stand on the injured foot while lifting the uninjured foot off the ground.
2.) Hold the position for 10 seconds.
3.) Relax and put your weight back onto your uninjured foot.

  1. Standing Calf Raise

standing calf
1.) Stand on the injured foot while lifting the uninjured foot off the ground.
2.) Raise up, standing only on the ball of the injured foot and lifting your heel off the ground.
3.) Hold the position for 10 seconds.
4.) Relax and put your weight back onto your uninjured foot.

 

 

 

Single Leg (Proprioception) Exercises

Single Leg Stance on a Towel

1.) Fold a towel into a small rectangle and place on the ground.
2.) Stand with the injured foot on the towel.
3.) Lift the uninjured leg off the ground standing only on the towel with the injured leg.
4.) Hold for 15 seconds. (As balance improves, increase stance time on injured leg up to 45 seconds.)
5.) Return your uninjured foot to the floor.

 

Ankle injuries are time consuming, preventing them is better option than curing them. Click HERE to learn ways to prevent ankle injuries in easy 10 ways!

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written by Anoop Sreekanthan Nair

A die - hard Manchester United fan, Anoop worships Sir Alex Ferguson. When he isn't following footballers, he makes them fit. A Sports Physio and a wellness expert, he has published his research in International Journal for Research and Reviews. Anoop has also worked with various Hospitals, Fitness Centres and Footbal clubs, including our very own I-league's Viva Kerala.

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