As you recover from an ankle injury, you should begin to perform strengthening exercises once you can bear weight comfortably and your range of motion is nearly full. There are several types of strengthening exercises.
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Isometric exercises, which involve pushing against a fixed object with your ankle, are a good way to get started. Examples include:
Place your ankle in the "down and in" position against a fixed object such as a couch. Hold this position for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.
Place your ankle in the "up and out" position against the same object. Hold this position for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.
Push your ankle down against a fixed object and hold for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.
Push your ankle up against a fixed object and hold for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.
Once isometric exercises have been mastered, you can move on to isotonic exercises, which involve improving the range of motion of the ankle against resistance. Isotonic exercises can be performed using a resistance band, which you can get through your physical therapist or at any sporting goods store. Examples include:
Using a resistance band around your forefoot, hold the ends of the band with your hand and gently push your ankle down as far as you can and then back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Tie the resistance bands around a fixed object and wrap the ends around your forefoot. Start with your foot pointing down and pull your ankle up as far as you can. Return to the starting position and cycle your ankle 10 times.
Tie the bands around an object to the outer side of your ankle. Start with the foot relaxed and then move your ankle down and in. Return to the relaxed position and repeat 10 times.
Tie the ends of the bands around an object to the inside of your ankle and hold your foot relaxed. Bring your foot up and out and then back to the resting position. Repeat 10 times.
Once you have regained the motion and strength in your ankle, you should be ready for sporting activities such as gentle jogging and biking, and build up from there. Be sure to check with your provider or physical therapist before increasing your activity level. Proprioceptive exercises will improve your awareness of the position, location, orientation and movement of your ankle. This is important to help avoid future ankle injuries. Examples of proprioceptive exercises include:
Stand with your affected leg on a pillow. Hold this position for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.
Stand on your affected leg with the resistance band applied to your unaffected leg. Bring your unaffected leg forward and then back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Start slowly and progress to a faster speed for a more difficult workout.
For a more advanced exercise, swing your unaffected leg behind you and then back.