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Exercises to Promote Ankle Healing after a Sprain

exercises to promote ankle healing

Ankle sprains are common injuries that can result in long-term pain if not handled correctly. Repeated or severe sprains are a typical cause of ankle pain and weakness, but properly treating a sprain can help prevent future pain and issues.

Since your ankle is sensitive following a sprain, start your exercises cautiously, using your pain level as a guide. If you experience much more than just mild pain, don’t overwork yourself and make your injury worse. The timing and type of exercises for you may vary depending on the severity of your sprain, and it is always a good idea to consult a professional before starting.

Range of Motion Exercises

These exercises should begin almost immediately after a sprain. Couple the exercises with icing the affected area up to 5 times per day for the most effective results. Here are a couple of range of motion exercises to get you started:

  • Use your big toe to trace the alphabet. It may sound a bit odd, but this encourages the ankle to move in all directions. Do this 1-3 times depending on your pain level.
  • Sit down with your foot flat on the floor. Begin moving your knee side-to-side slowly while keeping your foot planted flat on the ground. Do this for 2-3 minutes at a time.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises should start as soon as you’re able to stretch your Achilles tendon without any pain. The Achilles tendon is what connects your calf muscles to your foot at the base of the heel. Try these stretching exercises to begin your recovery:

  • The towel stretch

    Sit down and extend your leg out in front of you. Roll a towel lengthwise and place it under the ball of your foot, holding each end with your hands. Gently pull the towel towards you while keeping your knee straight. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat 2 to 4 times. Stop if you feel pain.

  • Calf stretch

    Stand with your hands at about eye level against a wall. Put the affected leg one step behind the other. Be sure to keep you back heel against the ground and bend your front leg until you feel a stretch in the affected ankle. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds 2 to 4 times, paying close attention to your pain levels.

Once your ankle is healed, be sure to continue performing stretching exercises on a daily basis to help prevent re-injury. If you’ve suffered from a severe sprain, our team of foot and ankle doctors can help you on the road to recovery. Request an appointment online, or call us at 904-825-0540.


Dr Hort - Foot surgeon St AugustineKURTIS HORT, MD
Diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.