Ankle Rehabilitation: What is it and what does it entail?

Ankle injuries are among the most common injuries presenting to primary care offices and emergency departments (Maughan MD).


Types of Ankle Injuries:

  • Grade I sprain: involves minimal stretching and no tear to the ankle ligaments, it will involve mild pain/swelling and no bruising. You will have no difficulty bearing weight on the ankle.
  • Grade II sprain: involves a partial tear of an ankle ligament with moderate swelling, pain and possible bruising. Mild to moderate joint instability and pain with weight bearing.
  • Grade III sprain: involves a full tear or rupture of one or more ligaments, with severe pain, swelling, and bruising. Joint instability, and inability to bear weight or walk.




If your doctor has referred you to physical therapy following an ankle sprain, here’s what you should expect to receive:

  • Range of Motion Exercises: This will begin immediately following your injury, starting with simple motions such as ankle alphabets, in which you spell the alphabet with your foot using your ankle only. 
  • Stretches: It is often important that you stretch your calf muscles following ankle injuries to help promote mobility 
  • Strengthening Exercises: These will be gradually progressed depending on the grade of your ankle injury and will consist of a variety of both dynamic and static positioned strengthening activities. 
  • Balance/Control Exercises: These will usually begin once you are able to bear full weight on your ankle
  • Functional/Sport Specific Exercises: Towards the end of your rehabilitation, these exercises will begin to be integrated throughout the treatment so that you are fully able to return to your normal every day life and athletic activities. 

Average time of recovery will depend on the severity of the injury. It can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks for a Grade I sprain, to several months for a Grade III sprain.



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