Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Ligament Sprain of the Ankle Rehabilitation

Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation
Minor ankle sprains, strains and contusions heal in 2 to 6 weeks. For minor injuries, start ankle rehabilitation exercises when the swelling and pain have resolved.

Severe ankle sprains, fractures and dislocations may require months to heal completely. Rehabilitation for these injuries may require formal physical therapy or occupational therapy.

Use the following guidelines for minor ankle injuries:

  • Exercise should be pain-free: do not start until the pain is gone.
  • Exercise motions should be performed smoothly.
  • Progress to difficult exercises quickly, but do so only if you remain pain-free.
  • Consider placing your ankle in an ice bath for 2-3 minutes before exercise. This may improve ankle motion.

Advance through the following exercises gradually. Exercise 2-3 times per day:
  • First, regain full range of motion by using the muscles in your leg to move your ankle in all directions.
  • Bear weight on the injury, first by shifting from foot to foot.
  • Bear weight completely on the heel.
  • Bear weight completely on the toes.
  • Walk, using short strides.
  • Walk, using long strides.
  • Walk in circles and in a figure-8.
  • Jog in a straight line.
  • Jog in circles or in a figure-8.
  • Jog in a sharp Z or smaller figure-8.
  • Sprint 5- 10 yards. Start and stop slowly.
  • Sprint 5- 10 yards. Start and stop quickly.

Continue to Ligament Sprain of the Ankle Toe Ring Removal

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Ligament Sprain of the Ankle References
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  2. Kunkel M, Miller SD. Return to work after foot and ankle injury. Foot Ankle Clin. 2002 Jun;7(2):421-8, viii. [12462119]
  3. McKay GD, Goldie PA, Payne WR, Oakes BW. Ankle injuries in basketball: injury rate and risk factors. Br J Sports Med. 2001 Apr;35(2):103-8.[11273971]
  4. Pugia ML, Middel CJ, Seward SW, Pollock JL, Hall RC, Lowe L, Mahony L, Henderson NE. Comparison of acute swelling and function in subjects with lateral ankle injury. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2001 Jul;31(7):384-8.[11451309]
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