Ankle Sprain Exercises for Rehabilitation in Quick Recovery

Ankle Sprain Exercises for Rehabilitation in Quick Recovery


An ankle sprain is a common injury affecting 20% to 50% of athletes and active people. It occurs when the ligaments connecting the bones in the ankle joint are stretched or torn. While a sprained ankle can be painful and debilitating, with proper care and rehabilitation, you can get back on your feet quickly. This blog post will guide you through effective ankle sprain exercises for a speedy recovery.

What An Ankle Sprain Is?

An ankle sprain is a musculoskeletal injury that occurs when you awkwardly twist your ankle, causing excessive force on the ligaments surrounding your ankle joint. These ligaments are strong, fibrous bands of tissue that connect bones and provide stability to your ankle joint. When your ankle twists beyond its normal range of motion, it can overstretch or tear these ligaments, resulting in a sprain.

Just how common are ankle sprains? Statistics show that they account for a staggering 40% of all ankle injuries. Athletes are particularly susceptible, with basketball players leading the pack with a 45% chance of experiencing a sprain during their careers. Soccer and football players aren’t far behind, highlighting this injury’s prevalence in sports involving quick changes of direction and sudden stops.

How Ankle Sprains Occur?

While often associated with sports injuries, they can happen to anyone during everyday activities. Here’s a deeper dive into the various ways ankle sprains can occur:

Loss of Balance:

  • Uneven Surfaces: Stepping on an uneven surface like a pothole, loose gravel, or a curb can cause your ankle to roll inwards or outwards, putting unnecessary stress on the ligaments.
  • Slips and Falls: Slipping on a wet floor, ice, or loose carpet can lead to a sudden loss of balance and a forceful twist of the ankle.
  • Missing a Step: Misjudging a step while walking downstairs or hiking on uneven terrain can cause your ankle to twist awkwardly.

Sports and Exercise:

  • Sudden Changes in Direction: Activities like basketball, soccer, or tennis often involve rapid changes in direction, which can put stress on the ankle and increase the risk of injury.
  • Landing Wrong: Jumping and landing incorrectly during sports or activities like jumping jacks can cause the ankle to roll inwards or outwards upon impact.
  • Contact Sports: Collisions with other players in sports like football or rugby can result in a forceful twist of the ankle.

Improper Footwear:

  • Worn-Out Shoes: Shoes that lack proper support and cushioning can increase the risk of ankle sprains, especially on uneven surfaces.
  • High Heels: While stylish, high heels can significantly alter your balance and stability, making you more prone to ankle sprains.
  • Improper Fit: Shoes that are too loose or too tight can compromise stability and increase the risk of ankle rolls.

Muscle Weakness and Fatigue:

  • Weak Ankles: Muscles that support the ankle joint, particularly the calf muscles, play a crucial role in stability. Weak ankles are more susceptible to sprains during physical activity.
  • Fatigue: When your muscles are fatigued, they are less responsive and supportive, making your ankle joint more vulnerable to sprains during exercise or even everyday activities.

Different Grades Of Ankle Sprains And Their Implications

Different Grades Of Ankle Sprains And Their Implications

Ankle sprains are classified into three grades based on the severity of the ligament damage. Understanding the grade of your sprain helps determine the appropriate recovery timeline and exercises.

Grade 1 (Mild)

  • Ligament Damage: Microscopic tears in the ligaments
  • Symptoms: Mild pain, swelling, and tenderness around the ankle joint. Walking may be slightly uncomfortable.
  • Recovery Time: 1-3 weeks

Grade 2 (Moderate)

  • Ligament Damage: Partial tear of the ligaments
  • Symptoms: Moderate pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking without a limp.
  • Recovery Time: 4-6 weeks

Grade 3 (Severe)

  • Ligament Damage: Complete tear of the ligaments, possible joint instability
  • Symptoms: Severe pain, swelling, bruising, significant difficulty walking, and possible instability in the ankle joint.
  • Recovery Time: 6-8 weeks or longer, sports physical therapy may be recommended

It’s important to consult a doctor to determine the grade of your sprain and receive a personalized treatment plan.

The Importance Of Exercise In Rehabilitation

Ankle exercise for sprain is important in recovery by promoting several benefits:

  • Improved blood flow: This accelerates healing by delivering essential nutrients to the injured area.
  • Reduced pain and inflammation: Exercises help decrease pain and swelling, making ankle movement easier.
  • Enhanced ankle flexibility: Gentle stretches improve your ankle’s range of motion, preventing stiffness.
  • Strengthened muscles: Exercises that target the muscles around your ankle joint improve stability and prevent future sprains.
  • Restored balance and proprioception: Balance exercises help regain confidence and control over your ankle joint.

How Exercise Aids In Recovery?

Ankle sprain exercises fall into three main categories:

  • Range of Motion Exercises: These gentle movement and stretching exercises help maintain and improve ankle mobility.
  • Strengthening Exercises: Exercises that target the muscles around your ankle joint improve stability and prevent future sprains.
  • Balance and Control Exercises: These exercises help regain confidence and control over your ankle joint, improving your balance.

The role of physiotherapy in rehabilitation

A physiotherapist can create a personalized exercise program specifically tailored to your needs and the severity of your sprain. They can also provide guidance on proper technique and exercise progression.

Ankle Sprain Exercises

Here are some examples of exercises you can do at home to aid your ankle sprain recovery time. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration as your pain improves. It’s crucial to listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain.

Range of Motion Exercises

Ankle Circles

  • Instructions: Sit in a chair and extend your injured leg straight out in front of you. Slowly rotate your foot in a clockwise direction for 10 repetitions. Then, repeat the movement in a counterclockwise direction for 10 repetitions.
  • Safety Precautions: Perform the circles slowly and smoothly. Avoid any sharp or forceful movements.

Towel Stretch

  • Instructions: Sit on the floor with your injured leg extended. Loop a towel around your toes and gently pull your toes towards you, keeping your knee straight. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each foot.
  • Safety Precautions: Don’t overstretch. You should feel a gentle stretch in your calf, not pain in your ankle.

Strengthening Exercises

Towel Scrunches

  • Instructions: Sit on a chair with a towel placed flat on the floor in front of you. Place your injured foot flat on the towel and scrunch it towards you using your toes. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat 10-12 times.
  • Safety Precautions: Keep your heel flat on the floor throughout the exercise.

Calf Raises (continued)

  • Instructions: Stand on a flat surface with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold onto a sturdy chair or wall for balance. Slowly rise up onto your toes, lifting your heels off the ground. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your heels back down. Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Safety Precautions: Keep your knees straight throughout the exercise. If you feel pain in your ankle, stop the exercise.

Balance and Control Exercises

Single-Leg Stand

  • Instructions: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly lift one leg off the ground and hold your balance for 10 seconds. Focus on keeping your core engaged and your gaze fixed on a point in front of you. Repeat on the other leg. As you get stronger, try closing your eyes for an added challenge.
  • Safety Precautions: Perform this exercise near a wall or sturdy object for support if needed. Don’t attempt this exercise if you have significant balance issues.

Heel-to-Toe Walk

  • Instructions: Walk in a straight line, placing your heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of your other foot. Take small, deliberate steps and focus on maintaining your balance. Continue for 10-15 steps and then turn around and repeat.
  • Safety Precautions: Perform this exercise barefoot or with well-gripped shoes to prevent slipping. Start slowly and increase the speed as you get comfortable.

The Role of Rest and Nutrition in Recovery

The Role of Rest and Nutrition in Recovery

In addition to exercise, proper rest and a balanced diet are crucial for optimal ankle sprain recovery.

Importance of rest in recovery

  • Allow your injured ankle adequate rest to facilitate healing. This may involve reducing activities that put stress on your ankle, such as running or jumping.
  • Use ice packs for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to reduce pain and inflammation during the first few days after the injury.
  • Consider using compression bandages or wraps to provide support and minimize swelling.

Nutritional needs for optimal recovery

  • Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to give your body the essential nutrients needed for healing.
  • Ensure adequate protein intake to support muscle repair and growth. Lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes are good protein sources.
  • Vitamin C is important in collagen production, which is essential for ligament healing. Include citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens in your diet.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you experience any of the following after an ankle sprain, consult a healthcare professional:

  • Severe ankle pain that doesn’t improve with rest and home care
  • Significant swelling or bruising
  • Difficulty walking or putting weight on your ankle
  • Deformity in the ankle joint
  • Numbness or tingling in your toes

A doctor can properly diagnose your sprain, recommend the most appropriate treatment plan, and potentially involve a physical therapist for a personalized rehabilitation program.


Ankle sprains are a common ankle injury, but with proper treatment and rehabilitation, you can recover quickly and return to your daily activities. By incorporating ankle exercises, rest, and a balanced diet into your recovery plan, you can promote healing, improve your ankle’s strength and stability, and prevent future injuries. Remember, listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

If you’re struggling with a sprained ankle and need specialized care to get back on your normal activities, consider reaching out to Continuous Motion Physical Therapy. Our experts are dedicated to providing personalized ankle conditioning programs that ensure you recover quickly and effectively. Contact us today to start your journey toward pain-free movement and enhanced mobility.


Is it OK to walk on a sprained ankle?

Whether or not you can walk on a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the sprain. For minor sprains, walking with a limp may be tolerable. However, walking may be difficult or painful for moderate or severe sprains. It’s best to consult a doctor for guidance on weight-bearing activities after an ankle sprain.

How long do ankle sprains last?

An ankle sprain’s recovery time depends on the injury’s severity. Mild sprains can heal within 1-3 weeks, while moderate sprains may take 4-6 weeks to recover fully. Severe sprains can take 6-8 weeks or longer to heal completely and may require physical therapy.

What not to do with a sprained ankle?

Here are some things to avoid after an ankle sprain:

  • Resting your ankle for too long, as this can lead to stiffness.
  • Applying heat to the injured area in the initial stages, as this can worsen swelling.
  • Ignoring pain and continuing strenuous activities.
  • Not wearing proper footwear that provides support and stability.
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Dr. Cameron Moore

PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

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Dr. Peyton Oules, PT, DPT Cert. DN

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Dr. Peyton Oules, physical therapist, is a Brewster, Washington native who grew up as a small-town athlete. During her high school sports career, she suffered from two ACL injuries which led her to pursue a career in physical therapy. 

She began her studies by earning her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, Pre-PT at Eastern Washington University.  During her undergraduate studies, she spent much of her time playing volleyball and coaching at the high school level.  Dr. Oules continued her education to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in Goodyear, Arizona.While in school, Dr. Oules became Certified in both Dry Needling and Myofascial Cupping.

Part of her clinical training included international travel to Sydney, Australia where she expanded her orthopedic skill set and had the opportunity to provide treatment for the athletes from the 2023 World Underwater Hockey Championships.

During her doctorate level studies, Dr. Oules learned the importance in making movement a lifestyle. She has a passion for sharing this knowledge with the community and getting her clients back to the activities they love.

Outside of the clinic Dr. Oules enjoys CrossFit®, hiking, traveling, and spending time outdoors with her dog, Rue. Some of her favorite adventures to date include hiking parts of the Grand Canyon and running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the Sydney 10k!

Dr. Peyton Oules’ Credentials:
•           Physical Therapist (PT)
•           Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
•           Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)

Dr. Khristian McGinley, PT, DPT Cert. DN

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Dr. Khristian McGinley, physical therapist, grew up here in Phoenix, as a competitive softball player with a longtime passion for health and wellness. After sustaining an elbow injury in high school and attending PT herself, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career helping people recover from injuries and getting back to doing what they love. She eventually received her B.S in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Arizona in 2013, then earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2017.

Dr. McGinley began her career with a passion in pediatrics and orthopedics, undergoing coursework to treat diagnoses such as torticollis, developmental delay, and toe walking. She also became certified in Dry Needling in 2017, and since then has been additionally trained in Dry Needling for Pelvic Rehabilitation. After the challenging birth of her first child, she developed a passion for treating the pregnant and postpartum population. She became specialty training in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in 2021 and since then has focused her practice on helping moms achieve pain free pregnancy, peaceful childbirth, and complete postpartum recovery. She specializes in diagnoses such as urinary incontinence, diastases recti, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. McGinley enjoys hiking, running, camping, weight lifting, and playing slow pitch softball. She loves spending as much time as she can outside with her husband and two children.

Dr. Khristian McGinley’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Meredith Wall, PT, DPT FAFS, Cert. DN

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Dr. Meredith Wall, physical therapist, grew up as a competitive athlete in basketball, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball. After sustaining an ankle injury and going to rehab as a young athlete, she instantly fell in love with learning about sports injuries and rehabilitation. This led her to major in Exercises Science at Grand Valley State University. After she graduated in 2010, she immediately pursued physical therapy to ultimately achieve her lifelong goals of becoming a physical therapist. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2013, graduating as a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society recognizing individuals with outstanding GPA in a college graduate program.

Dr. Wall continued her educational pathway through the Gray Institute receiving a fellowship in Applied Functional Science (FAFS). A FAFS is only obtained by a select number of practitioners, who deliver optimal care through the diagnosis and treatment of functional human movement. She also became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN) in 2017, is trained in the McKenzie Method to treat spinal pain, and most recently has become specialized in Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation. This specialty area allows her to treat women across the lifespan dealing with incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic pain, and pain during or after pregnancy.

Dr. Wall’s special interests include diagnosing and treating active patients across the lifespan to help them return to optimal function. In her spare time, she enjoys Crossfit®, running, coaching youth sports, and traveling with her husband and three sons.

Dr. Meredith Wall’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Specialty-trained in Pelvic Floor Therapy

Dr. Cameron Moore, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, CSCS, Dip. Osteopractic

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Dr. Cameron Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, has always been very active with sports and activities starting with competitive motocross racing up to a semi-professional level and being a scholarship athlete in track and field competing at the division 1 level in college at Eastern Washington University in the triple jump. Cameron became interested in the profession of physical therapy after having knee surgery in high school and seeing the inter-workings of the profession. He pursued his bachelors degree in Exercise Science before moving to Phoenix to earn his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Franklin Pierce University.

He then began specialization courses for spinal manipulation (Spinal Manipulation Institute) and dry needling (Dry Needling Institute). This lead Cameron in to becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT) through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT) and earned a Diploma of Osteopractic®, a distinction and training that only a small percentage of physical therapist have completed.

Dr. Moore continues to be very involved with motocross riding, Crossfit®, Olympic weight lifting, running and an overall active lifestyle with his Wife (Michelle) and their Vizsla (Parker).

Dr. Cameron Moore’s Credentials

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Certified in Dry Needling (Cert DN)
  • Certified in Spinal Manipulation (Cert SMT)
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip Osteopractic)
  • Fellow Of The American Academy Of Manual Physical Therapist (FAAOMPT)
  • American Academy of Manipulative Therapy Fellow (AAMT)
  • Crossfit® Level 1 Certified (CF-L1)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified
  • USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach

Dr. Michelle Moore, PT, DPT FAAOMPT, Dip. Osteopractic

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Dr. Michelle Moore, physical therapist and co-owner, grew up as a competitive gymnast and developed a passion for healthy living from a young age. Her collegiate studies in Health Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and athletic background influenced her to combine her passions and pursue a career in physical therapy. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Franklin Pierce University in 2013.

Dr. Moore continued her educational pathway through the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy where she earned her Diploma Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic) and became Certified in Dry Needling (Cert. DN), and Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT). From 2016-2017 Dr. Moore completed the rigorous coursework to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT), a distinction held by only a fraction of the profession.

Dr. Moore’s special interests include treating active individuals and returning them to the activities that they love. In her spare time she enjoys Crossfit®, Olympic Weightlifting, mountain biking, hiking, and traveling with her husband, Cameron, and dog, Parker.

Dr. Michelle Moore’s Credentials:

  • ​Physical Therapist (PT)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Fellow of American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT)
  • Diploma in Osteopractic® (Dip. Osteopractic)
  • Certified Dry Needling (Cert. DN)
  • Certified Spinal Manipulative Therapy (Cert. SMT)
  • Crossfit® Mobility Certified