I am going to give you a leg up on how to learn the best rehabilitation exercises for sprained ankles. This will greatly reduce your risk of spraining your ankle again. Some studies have shown a decreased risk of up to 80%! One of the major problems with people who sprain their ankles is that they tend to re-sprain them again and again and again. This is because the person does their well-intentioned rehabilitation but they do not address the most important factor. You need to get the neuromuscular aspect of the ankle unit functioning properly to keep from tearing the ligaments. And here's the secret!
Firstly, I want to remind you that as with any injury the most important thing to do is to get it moving after a couple of days rest. The first two days are spent icing, elevating compression bandage etc (RICE regime) and then you must get your joint moving. The last thing you want to do is keep it wrapped up and not allowing any movement. This is one of the worst things that you can do for any injury. You want to move the joint in a controlled pain free manner. I have written more on this in other articles on treating injuries, if you would like more information I will soon be setting up my blog so that you can subscribe and automatically get this information and much more.
The most overlooked part of rehabilitation is to do with proprioception. What is proprioception I hear you ask? These are receptors that tell you where your body is positioned in space. For example, if you lift your arms out to the sides and you close your eyes you don't need to look at your arms to know where they are. The proprioceptors give you the feedback telling you exactly where your body is in space. When it comes to a sprained ankle these little guys go walkabout and don't give the body its feedback about what is happening with the ankle. So, if you twist your ankle and the proprioceptors are doing their job normally then they will tell the body that the ankle is about to go too far and the muscles will hold the ankle in place before it gets sprained. Without these functioning properly, there is no feedback mechanism and it's another sprain for the ligaments of the ankle. However, it's easy to remedy, you just need to know how to retrain the proprioceptors.
Step 1: Have a chair or something to hold onto close by, you are going to need to balance and don't want to re-injure yourself. Be careful. Stand on one leg and try to hold it for 10 seconds. If you can do these pain-free and is fairly easy then build up the amount of time. Do these three times a day. By doing this you will increase you're balancing skills which is exactly what your ankle needs. When doing this look ahead at something to help keep your balance. Don't look down at your feet.
When you can do this comfortably for 30 seconds try doing it with your eyes closed. It's a whole lot harder.
You may also like to roll up a towel and stand on that as well. It's slightly more challenging for the ankle. You can also stand on foot and reach out for things or bend up and down. The more you work and challenge the ankle the better. You can even stand 10 feet away from someone standing on one foot still and throw a ball back and forwards.
If you do this daily you will reawaken your proprioceptors and have them working as they should once more. You will strengthen your ankle, have better proprioception working for you and have a much smaller risk of re-injuring your ankle.
In a later post I will write a full ankle rehabilitation programme.