I used to think that an ankle sprain or strain was really not a big deal. I have occasionally twisted my ankle over the years doing something mindless, such as stepping into a small ditch in the ground when I should have been more observant. My ankle would hurt for a day or so, and running would be a challenge, but I never really gave much thought to it becoming a long-term problem or anything completely aggravating outside of a nagging pain for a couple of days.
While most individuals will rapidly recover from an ankle sprain, it is not uncommon for such conditions to become chronic. It is imperative that proper rehabilitation is given to make sure that any and all physical deficiencies are treated.
Traditionally, when treating ankle sprains, the focus has primarily been on reducing the pain and swelling. How many of you have put your foot up on the couch and placed an ice pack on your affected ankle? It is also important to restore the joint range of motion and muscular flexibility, as well as increase muscular strength and endurance.
Old-school approaches typically involved the use of resistive exercises using special tubing and calf raises, using either the body weight of the athlete or weight machines. Once the patient could satisfactorily perform these exercises, it was presumed she could safely return to her activity.
Recently, the focus is directed more toward the strengthening of the entire lower extremity when treating ankle injuries. With such approaches, more emphasis is placed on single leg balance activities and on exercises that force the patient to stabilize the lower extremity against some form of external resistance.
With these types of exercises, the individual is basically simulating movement and body positions that will be encountered during the physical activity in which she participates.
There are a few simple exercises you can perform at home to strengthen your ankles, as well as to enhance the blood flow to the legs. Before doing any of these exercises, however, please check with your physician or health care professional, especially if you have a history of ankle problems or if you have not exercised for an appreciable amount of time.
The ankle stretch and rotate is best done lying on the floor. Lie on your back on a firm bed or on a flat couch that does not have arm rests. Slide down until your feet and ankles hang off the end. Keep your arms by your side.
Stretch your feet as far forward as you can without pain or discomfort, pointing them away from your body. You should feel the tops of your feet and the muscles in your shin stretching.
Next, bend your feet back towards your body as far as you can. You should feel the bottoms of your feet and your calf muscles stretching this time.
Repeat this exercise approximately 15 times, alternating stretching your feet forward and backward.
Then, slowly turn both feet around in circles at the ankle joint. Do this so they are turning towards each other, with one turning clockwise and one turning counter-clockwise. Be sure to rotate each foot through it entire range of motion. Do this roughly 15 times.
Repeat these exercises twice daily.
The benefits of these simple exercises allow your ankles to stretch and become stronger. Blood flow will be enhanced to your feet, ankles, and lower extremities. It will also stimulate nerves in your legs and feet and help to prevent ankle sprains and strains.
When doing these exercises, remember to breathe slowly and deeply. If you notice any pain in your ankles, discontinue the exercises. Don’t force anything. It is best to do these exercises first thing in the morning before you get out of bed and last thing at night before you go to sleep.
Another great exercise is to do single leg squats. Do this by holding onto a table to steady yourself. Eventually you will get to the point where you do not need the table for support. Also, try doing bicep curls while standing on just one leg. That will get those ankles strong in no time! You may feel wobbly at first, but with practice, it will become easier.
When your ankles are strong and flexible, they help to support your body, providing proper balance. Don’t let an ankle injury become an excuse to discontinue your exercise regimen. It is good to keep them strong for the rest of your life. When ankle strengthening exercises are performed on a regular basis, you can most likely kiss ankle sprains and strains good-bye!
(Information for this article was found athttp://www.lifescript.com/Body/Shape/Fit-tips/Quick_Tips_for_Strengthening_a_Weak_Ankle.aspx, http://www.physioroom.com/experts/asktheexperts/answers/qa_mb_20040315.php, and http://www.chinese-holistic-health-exercises.com/exercises-to-strengthen-ankles.html)