By Brooke Iseler, PT, DPT
Have you ever rolled your ankle while playing sports? Maybe you were walking on uneven ground, or just going up/down stairs at home? Ankle sprains happen a lot! Some studies show upwards of 70% of active individuals experience an ankle injury during their lifetime. Of these, most experience reoccurring injuries to the same ankle. When this happens, damage can occur to the tissues around the ankle. In turn, leading to deficits in mobility and strength of the ankle and lower extremity as a whole. These deficits may prevent full participation in desired activities. Does this sound familiar to you?
The ankle is a complex joint – consisting of multiple bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. All of these have to function correctly for proper biomechanics during activity. If any one component is damaged, lower extremity movements patterns can be altered. As the foot and ankle are the first to take impact during weight bearing activity, this can lead to dysfunction at the foot/ankle or further up the chain at the knee, hip, or even back. The severity of ankle injuries can differ greatly. Even a mild injury can result in long-lasting deficits and dysfunction.
If you have had an ankle injury recently, or in the past, the stretches and exercises below may help improve any remaining symptoms. If you find these to be helpful, or more difficult than you expected, you may benefit from further evaluation to determine if formal physical therapy could get you back to 100%. Please give us a call at (480)968-2020 or email us, if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals. We are happy to help get you back on your feet
With hands on wall, bring one leg forward and rotate it from side to side, keeping knee in line with belly button. Rotate 20 times, switch legs, and repeat. Perform 2-3 sets on each leg. This will stretch the muscles in the calf. If you don’t feel a mild to moderate stretch, move stance leg back farther from wall.
Begin with one foot on edge of chair or bench. Then, drive hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip. Return to starting position and repeat. Perform 15-20 times, 2-3 sets on each leg. This will stretch the lower extremities and improve hip mobility. Remember, safety first. If your balance is compromised, stand at edge of counter or at wall for upper extremity support.
Standing in doorway, using frame for support, reach back and tap toe out to right, return to starting position, then reach and tap toe straight back, return to starting position, lastly reach back and tap toe out to left. Perform 15 taps per leg, repeat for 2-3 sets. This will help strengthen the muscles in your leg and hip, improving stability as well.
Begin standing on one foot with hands overhead. Reach other heel forward, tap on ground, reaching back with arms as you do. Return to starting position, repeat 15-20 times, switch legs and repeat 2-3 times on each leg. If you have pain or lose balance quickly, perform in doorway and hold onto frame for support. This exercise will improve lower extremity strength and stability, as well as increase ankle range of motion.