Have you had an ankle sprain that has left you with too much pain? There are three ankle sprain grades: Grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3 (more on this later). Based on the grade of the sprain, you may experience slight or severe pain. Also, based on the grade, you can try ankle sprain exercises at home to help heal quickly, or you might have to wait a couple of days before exercising.
Exercise your sprained ankle to recover fast. However, wait at least three days for the pain to subside. It’s OK to stretch a sprained ankle once you notice minimal pain and swelling. Even so, avoid walking on a sprained ankle to quicken its healing and prevent any further complications.
How about you keep reading to know the best ankle sprain exercises, after how long you should start doing them, and more?
What Are The 3 Grades Of Ankle Sprains?
As aforementioned, the three grades of ankle sprains are:
- Grade 1
- Grade 2
- Grade 3
You can know the severity of the sprained ankle by knowing the amount of damage done to the ligaments. The symptoms you experience should tell you how much damage is done and which ankle sprain exercises at home you should do.
Also, the symptoms tell you if your ankle sprain is grade 1, 2, or 3. Grade 3 sprain is worse than grade 2, and grade 2 is worse than grade 1.
Grade 3 can take several months before it heals fully.
Below is a table showing how long each sprain takes to recover based on its severity, plus the symptoms indicating the sprain’s grade.
|The 3 Grades Of Ankle Sprains
|1 to 3 weeks
|-Mild tenderness-Minimal pain and swelling
|Little stretching without a tear
|3 to 6 weeks
|-Tolerable pain and swelling-Bearable tenderness-Mild to severe imbalance-Loss of range of function and motion -Bruising Pain when walking or carrying heavy items
|A couple of months
|-Bruising and swelling-Unbearable pain-Tenderness-Loss of range of motion-Loss of function-High imbalance -Too much pain to carry heavy weight or walk
|Complete rupture or tear
Most Effective Ankle Sprain Exercises At Home: For Beginners and Experts!
The most effective ankle sprain exercises for everyone, beginners and experts alike, are;
- Range of motion
- Balance and control
Quickly, let’s have them under the microscope and see how effective they’ll be when you do them.
Stretching ankle exercises are recommended if the swelling is slight and there’s minimal pain or none. Blood flows successfully to all the areas when you stretch the ankle, quickening the healing process. That’s why stretching is one of the best ankle sprain exercises at home.
Besides, the limber and nearby muscles become strong, free from any possible risk associated with the sprain.
So, whenever possible, please do stretch ankle sprain exercises daily.
Where possible, stretch the ankle in all directions three times a day. Be gentle while doing it. All directions mean;
- Forward and backward
- Clockwise and counterclockwise rolling
Types Of Stretch Exercises
- Grab a towel and sit on the floor. While at it, stretch the leg straight.
- Strap or wrap it around your foot, paying more attention to the area around the ball of the ankle.
- Gently pull the towel towards you to make the calf muscle feel a little stretched. This should force your toes to move toward you.
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Don’t release the stretch yet. Do so after about 15, utmost, 30 seconds. The timing may be less based on how you feel. If you notice severe pain, don’t force it; stop these towel ankle sprain exercises at home and try after a few days.
- Rest against a wall to have enough support since your ankle may not have enough strength to support you fully.
- Have your feet apart just a little (shoulder-width apart is ideal).
- Slowly and gently rise on your toes while getting enough support from the wall.
- Come back down after a couple of seconds.
- Repeat the exercise about 10 to 20 times or as you wish if there’s only a stretch feeling with no ankle pain.
- Standing before a wall and putting your hands on it to get enough support, move the sprained ankle about a step backward. The good ankle should be forward while the other remains flat on the floor.
- Gently and slowly bend the front leg to apply some stretch on the hurting ankle. Again, the aim is to stretch the sprained ankle. Therefore, once you experience any stretch, stay in that position for about 30 seconds or more as long as you’re comfortable.
- Repeat the exercise at least three times every day.
- You can’t stand on your ailing leg for long because the ankle is not strong enough to support all your body weight. After enough stretching, you should strengthen it to support your body weight without needing support or experiencing pain.
- However, you must wait until there’s no pain or swelling in your ankle to start the strengthening exercise.
Some of the best strengthening exercises include:
- Towel curls
- Wall pushes
- Band pushes
Let’s take a closer look to get your heel quickly healed through simple ankle sprain exercises at home.
- Grab a towel and place it on the floor. Place a chair next to it (hard chairs are best for this). Sit on the chair and step on the towel using the foot that is healing. You must have no shoes; you want to grab and release the towel using your toes to do the ankle sprain exercises at home successfully.
- Keep grabbing the towel using your toes for about 5 seconds before letting it go. If there’s no pain, do the exercise 10 times and repeat it the next day or after two days.
- While sitting on the floor, stretch your legs straight and rest your back against a wall. Bend the healing leg and ensure it is flat. Try to push against the wall while trying to avoid moving your body.
- You aim to strengthen the ankle. Therefore, stay in that position for about 5 to 6 seconds before giving your leg enough time to rest. Do the same exercise at least 10 times or more as long as you’re not experiencing any pain.
The band pushes create resistance to the ankle and strengthen it during the healing process.
- To do band pushes, simply grab an elastic band and sit on the floor. While seated, place the elastic band around your ailing foot so it goes around the ankle’s ball.
- You should hold the band’s edges with your hands, each end on each hand. Start the exercises by pushing the foot forward. Since the band is elastic, your toes should move forward. Move the band backward and forward again.
As long as there’s no pain in your ankle, you can repeat this exercise as often as you wish, but starting with about 10 reps is ideal.
Range Of Motion
Ankle sprains cause interference with the normal range of motion. That’s what makes you experience pain when you try to make any moves. To stop this, do a range of motion exercises, for example;
- Ankle circles
- Knee motion
- Tissue and towel scrunches
Let’s discuss these motions further.
Ankle circles can be challenging for most people when starting, but it’s fun once you get used to them. Plus, they’re very therapeutic. Here’s what you need to do.
- Make yourself comfortable on a chair and place the healing leg on the knee of the good leg. So, the right foot should face the left hand, or the left foot should face the right hand. It all depends on which leg you want to exercise.
- Next, make circles, clockwise and counterclockwise, repeatedly –at least 10 times. Your focus should be on the ankle, not the knee.
The other exercise that works similarly to the ankle circles is drawing using the big toe.
- So, sit the same way you do when doing ankle circles.
- Write the alphabet from A to Z. You can do it twice or thrice as long as you’re comfortable.
Knee Motion and Drawing
Knee motion not only strengthens your healing foot but also stretches it. Besides, every ligament around the ankles gets relaxed through knee motion exercise. Hence, this is one of the best ankle sprain exercises at home.
So, how do you go about knee motion and drawing workouts?
- Simply make yourself comfortable on a chair or coach.
- Ensure that both feet are comfortable on the floor.
- Gently and slowly, move the knee to the right and the left.
- You can repeat these exercises a couple more times as long as there’s no pain in your ankle. However, three times a day is enough.
- Cut a big tissue and place it on the floor. You can use a towel in its place if you wish.
- Next to it, place a hard chair and sit on it. You should be barefoot, not even wearing socks.
- For best results, ensure that the tissue or towel (if you wish) is well straightened before stepping on it using the healing foot.
- Using your toes, grab a big chunk of tissue or towel and hold it for about 5 seconds. Hopefully, there’s no pain in your ankle. If there’s any, give yourself a break and try again after about 3 days.
- If there’s no pain, do the ankle sprain exercises at home at least 7 to 10 times.
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With a sprained ankle, it would be very painful to maintain balance. Balance and control exercises are, therefore, vital. Such include;
- One-leg squat
- One-leg balance
- Balance board squats
One-leg balance is essential for strengthening the sprained leg.
- Grab a chair and use it for support.
- While holding onto the chair, slightly bend the troubled leg and then lift the good leg. So, your body weight should rest on the healing leg.
- Stand on the sprained leg for about 30 seconds.
- If it doesn’t hurt, get your hands off the supporting chair and try standing on the healing leg again.
- Repeat this exercise after a couple of days without needing any support.
Graduate gradually by doing it while closing your eyes, gently moving the head, and slowly bending and straightening the ailing knee.
With time, your healing leg should balance correctly without any strains or pains, which means it’s fully healed.
One-leg squatting is a balancing exercise you should do every day, even if you’re not healing from a sprained ankle. It is among the most effective ankle sprain exercises at home that strengthens your ankles and makes them able to balance.
Here’s how to go about it.
- Stretch your arms while standing on the healing foot to give yourself enough balance.
- Lift the good leg (to some degree) off the floor while the healing leg is slightly bent.
- While in that position, gently lower to the squatting position.
- Stay in that position for about 2 seconds before standing.
- Do this about 3 times if you’re comfortable (no pain in the ankle).
Balance Board Squats
- If there’s a fiend in the house, you could try to have fun while still helping your ankle to balance. It would be a win-win situation.
- Let each of you stand on a balance board. You may also use a BOSU or a wobble board.
- Start tossing a ball to each other. You can do this for as long as you want. Just be sure you’re not straining your ankle.
If there’s no one in the house or no one wants to play with you, don’t worry. You can still do much while alone.
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|Bosu Original Balance Trainer (65 cm Diameter)
|StrongTek Professional Wooden Balance Board
|Revbalance 101 v2, Balance Board Sports Trainer
|SPRI Slide Board (71″ L x 20″ W) with End Stops- Low Impact Balance Training
|Balance Board for Core Strength
|Original Wooden Balance Board
|Non-Slip Exercise Balance Pad
|Synergee Balance Board, Stability Workout
- While on the wobble board (or another listed above), do half-squats.
- Repeat these half-squats at least 8 to 10 times daily.
Be gentle on yourself and slow while squatting. Your attention should be on your ankles to know when to stop and when to continue. If there’s pain, your ankle is straining, stop and rest.
Should I Exercise My Sprained Ankle?
Yes, as long as it’s a minor or moderate ankle sprain, you should do ankle sprain exercises at home several times a day.
Based on how severe the sprain is, you could wait for a couple of days before exercising. The rule of thumb is to ensure that you’re not straining your ankle to do whatever exercise you want, thus making it too painful to bear.
However, if there’s no pain or there’s minor (no) swelling, you can do exercises such as balancing, stretching, strengthening, and range of motion. Take a break of about 2 to 3 days before repeating the exercise. This is essential as it prevents cases of overworking the sprained ankle.
Also, you should always follow the doctor’s advice before or when doing ankle sprain exercises at home.
Is It Ok to Stretch a Sprained Ankle?
Absolutely, you should stretch a sprained ankle several times a day. What’s more? You can start the exercise after about 48 hours if there’s no pain or severe swelling. Stretch it again after about 2 or 3 days to avoid overworking it.
It’s also wise not to exercise if your ankle sprain doctor has not given you the go-ahead yet. So, seek his consent before starting.
How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Sprained Ankle?
The severity of the sprain determines how long to wait before starting ankle sprain exercises at home. For example, a grade three sprain that is also swollen would be too painful to start exercising immediately.
On the other hand, you can start exercising grade one or two sprains after about 48 to 72 hours. The mild or moderate pain that was on day one should have ceased.
So, after about 8 or 72 hours, you may do a couple of range of motion exercises and then gradually begin doing others, for example, strengthening and balancing ankle exercises.
Again, your doctor should be the first person to ask when to begin exercises.
Is It Ok To Walk On A Sprained Ankle?
Walking on a sprained ankle isn’t safe unless the healing process has started and there’s no pain after doing several ankle sprain exercises at home for about a week. Why?
If the ankle hasn’t healed yet and there’s still pain, you will slow down its healing process once you start walking.
It would, therefore, be better if you stay home and rest for a couple of days to months (if it was a grade three sprain).
Ankle sprain exercises at home are simple yet essential in your healing journey. Besides, you only need a chair, a towel, and an elastic band. You likely have all of these in your house. You may also need a balance board for squats. While it may not be in your home, it’s easy to access.
Better said; it’s cheap to do the sprain exercises to help your ankle heal quickly. Moreover, you don’t need a helping hand; you can do stretches, strength exercises, range-of-motion, and balancing ankle exercises comfortably.
Sparing only ten minutes a day is enough to help in the sprain injury.