If you ever injured your ankle and still feeling weakness and lack of confidence in it, then read on because I have some very important information to share with you…
After an ankle injury, not only it can be physically hard to get back to normal function and exercise routine, but it can be hard to get back mentally. Regaining confidence in yourself and your weak ankle will help you get back to your full potential fast. Here are the top 3 ways to regain that confidence that was lost, while strengthening your ankle to protect yourself from future injuries.
Best ways to strengthen and rehabilitate after an ankle injury
Rehabilitation allows you to regain the full function of your ankle after an injury. It restores the strength, endurance, flexibility, and power that you lost. These drills will regain the strength and rebuild your confidence, so you can continue to push yourself to the peak of perfection… or so you can simply continue with your exercise routine.
This is especially important for you if you still feeling the residual effects of your ankle sprain even if it happened a long time ago but it’s still holding you back.
Remember it’s never too late to start rehab on your ankle even if it’s been months or even years since your ankle sprain happened.
1. Ankle mobility drills
This set of exercises are particularly useful early after an injury when your ankle still feels very stiff. Physically move the ankle to start to improve your mobility. You can do this by pumping the foot up and down like you were pumping the brakes on your car. Make sure that the pumping is slow and you try to extend and flex your foot a bit more each time. Don’t rush it. Once you start to feel better as the injury heals, start to write the alphabet with your toes to improve the sideways mobility.
2. Exercise (Theraband) strengthening exercises
Typically when you hurt your ankle the muscles around the joint become weaker and often you lose the ability to activate them effectively. Not being able to activate these muscle in a timely manner means that you run a higher risk of re-injuring your ankle.
Theraband exercises involve tying one end of a rubber band around a leg of a table or chair and the other end around the front of your foot. Then, you try to twist your toes in the opposite direction against the resistance of the band. Click on the video below to watch a demo of this exercise. Carrying out this exercise will gradually help to strengthen your ankles and prevent re-injury.
3. Balance and proprioception exercises
Proprioception relates to our awareness of the way our body parts (in this case your foot) are positioned relative to the rest of the body. It is a lot like balance. Knowing where your body is positioned can help to reduce further risk of re-injury and protect your ankle while rehabilitation is in progress. You don’t want to hurt it any further. These exercises can help to improve co-ordination. Here they are…
a) Heel to toe balancing
This is something that you may have tried on a balance beam in gym class. You will walk with your toe to the heel of your other foot. It helps you work on your balance and is a great work up to other workouts. Hold each step for fifteen to thirty seconds to build balance and find your center.
b) Stork stance
Work on balancing on your bad ankle for thirty seconds. Stand on the bad ankle and try to balance for thirty seconds on a flat surface. Then you can take this exercise to an unstable surface like a cushion or pillow. This will make balancing harder. It will allow you to begin to strengthen that ankle even further.
c) Blind stork stance
This exercise is even more advanced and great care should be taken when trying it out. Essentially it’s the same as the previous “Stork stance” exercise but this time you are doing it with your eyes closed. Check that the environment around is safe so that if you lose your balance you are not going to hurt yourself.
When you get an ankle injury, you need to start to strengthen the muscles in your ankle. When you begin to strengthen your ankle, you will have stronger faith that your ankle will be able to handle what you need it to. You can regain your confidence and push yourself harder once again. Build strength in your ankle and build strength in your mind.
The other important thing to note is that your return to physical exercise and sport should be gradual. Your first training after an injury should be very light, usually at less than 50% of your pre-injury intensity levels. If you are a runner, your first run should be a light jog on a flat surface, no hills and only for no longer than 10 minutes. Then wait for 24 hours to see how the ankle responds. If there are no flare-ups, you can push yourself a little harder next time. Gradually build up to your pre-injury exercise levels.
If you are currently carrying an ankle injury the best advice is to see one of the physiotherapists at BodyFit so you can get a custom personalised treatment and rehabilitation programme. Call us on 09-5328942