Ankle injuries range from strains, sprains to more serious conditions such as fractures. They can happen on any normal day and involve the bone, ligament or tendon. Fractures and sprains can stem from the twisting of ankle joints when a person trips, falls, lands awkwardly after a jump.
Ankle Exercises – Preventing Sprains
The exercises for ankles are based on the four basic motions of the ankle joint, namely the planter flexion, dorsi flexion, inversion and eversion. The first one entails pointing the toes, while the second motion requires pulling the toes upward from the ground. Among these types of ankle exercises, inversion can lead to a sprain when done excessively, so pointing the toes inward should be done with caution and limited motion. The final type, eversion, is done by pointing the toes outward. There are also sport-specific exercises to ward of sprains. They are sometimes performed with devices such as a ball or rubber band for resistive ankle exercises.
Ankle Strengthening – Types and Steps
Aside from the movement of toes in different directions, there are more complex ways of ankle strengthening. Ankle plantarflexion, which is done ten times, starts by standing in front of a table, chair or any object that can support balance. It then proceeds with tiptoeing for six seconds and slowly returning to a standing position. Also repeated ten times is an exercise known as ankle dorsiflexion, which also requires the patient to lean on something for balance. Unlike ankle plantarflexion, dorsiflexion involves remaining on heels of six seconds and slowly returning to standing position. An ankle strengthening exercise that uses the restistance providing therabands, is a combination of inversion and eversion, which is done by slowly turning the foot inward for six seconds and doing the same thing in an outward manner for the same duration.
Ankle Rehabilitation – General Information
After assessing the injured ankle for misalignment or structural defects, doctors usually test it for weakness and deficits in the tendons, ligaments and cartilage. The second stage of ankle rehabilitation concerns the stability of joints after the joint alignment is corrected. Physicians recommend different exercises covering range of motion, balance, agility and progressive strength as well as endurance. Grade I ankle sprains are addressed through flexibility exercises, which include gentle stretching of the affected area. Fractures are more serious and therefore require more sophisticated treatment including surgery such as Brostrom repair for the ligaments, walking aids and post-operative physical therapy.