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Ankle Sprain

A sprain is a stretch injury of the ligaments that support the ankle.

General Information:

 About 25,000 ankle sprains occur in the United States every day. The ligaments on the outside of the ankle are the most commonly injured when the foot is turned inward.

What are some symptoms?

The ankle is tender and swollen on the outside, below, and just in front of the ankle bone. Typically, the bone is not as tender at the area above and in front of it. A sprain may be mild, causing only modest pain, or severe enough to prevent weightbearing.

How Should I Rehabilitate My Ankle?

Rehabilitation can begin a few days after the injury, when the swelling starts to go down.
There are three goals to aim for in rehabilitation.

1. Restore motion and flexibility. Gently move the ankle up and down. After 5 to 7 days, start restoring motion to the hindfoot by turning the heel in and out.

You should also begin to restore flexibility to the calf muscles. One way to do this is to face a wall with
one foot in front of the other and lean forward with your hands on the wall, bend the front leg while keeping the back leg straight and both heels on the floor. Lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch, and hold for 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

2. Restore strength. After 60 to 70 percent of the ankle’s normal motion has returned, you can begin strengthening exercises using a rubber tube for resistance. Fix one end of the tube to an immovable object like a table leg, and loop the other end around the forefoot. Sit with your knees bent and heels on the floor. Pull your foot inward against the tubing, moving your knee as little as possible. Return slowly to the starting position. Repeat with the other foot.

You can also sit on the floor with your knees bent and the tube looped around both feet. Slowly pull outward against the tube, moving your knee as little as possible. Return slowly to the starting position. Repeat with the other foot.

3. Restore balance. As the ankle recovers and strength returns, balance is restored by standing on the injured leg, with the other foot in the air and your hands out to the side.

After the first week, you may want to warm the ankle before doing these exercises by soaking it in warm water. A warmed tissue is more flexible and less prone to injury. Use ice when finished with the exercises to minimize any irritation to the tissue caused by the exercise.