Rehab Exercises For Ankle Sprains

The best way to understand ankle sprain rehabilitation is to split the topic in 2. The first part focuses on restoring mobility and maintaining blood flow. The second part focuses more on restoring strength to the muscles and connective tissue of the ankle. 

If you have sprained your ankle badly it is vitally important to know that the research indicates you are at significant risk of further problems. We advise you spend at least 6 months doing these exercises a minimum of 5 times per week, we recommend you do them until you feel steady doing the wobble exercises on both legs. Restoring full ability to balance is an excellent measure of whether you are rehabilitated or not. NB. If you find your balance is poor on both legs doing the wobble pad exercise,  this may have contributed to you getting the sprain (and to any other niggly pains you might have)  in the first place.. fix it. 

Ankle Circles Exercise For Ankle Sprain Recovery 

  1. Stand on 1 leg and find your steady balance as best you can using the same policy as the ankle ‘up & down’ stretch. Make sure you are steady enough to not fall, even if it means grabbing hold of a door frame. Bring your non-supporting leg to 90 degrees  with your knee bent.

  1. Starting with your toe pointing downwards firmly start to draw a large clockwise circle slowly with the tip of your toe. Go slowly enough that you can make the circle as smooth and controlled as possible. *repeat this 9 times so you have drawn 9 big slow circles, make effort to stretch thus making the circle as big as possible without undue pain. 


  1. At the completion of the 9 clockwise circles start at 6 o’clock again and draw 9 anti-clockwise circles in the same way. 
  1. Repeat the 18 rotations ( 9 clockwise & 9 anti ) twice on each leg. That will total 36 rotations on each leg. 

*this process will take a good 5 minutes or more to complete if you go nice and slow, as you should. 5 mins can feel like quite a long time doing a repetitive motion like this it is more than worth the effort. 

*as with the previous exercise use a hand on a wall for support if you feel unsteady. 

*aim for smooth rotations of the ankle, smooth motion reflects good control of your leg and foot muscles

*don’t lose track of balancing steadily with the supporting leg. This can make the whole thing a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, that’s the whole idea. Good rehabilitation strengthens muscles but it also improves coordination of affected body parts. 

Alphabet Exercise For Ankle Sprain Rehabilitation

For reasons as yet unknown, after a bad ankle sprain the muscles in your foot and ankle go to hell, they can be bought back with the right kind of exercises. This is a simple but effective way to restore fine motor control to your ankle and foot muscles after a sprain. Restoring motor control to the area after ankle sprains is a major part of preventing re-injury. 

  1. Stand on one leg, use a hand against a wall or piece of furniture for stability if you need it. Bring your thigh up to 90 degrees and get your self balanced and stable.

  1. Use the tip of your big toe to draw a letter A as as big as you can without undue pain. 

*if you have a freshly sprained ankle you will only be able to draw tiny letters and that’s all good. The further done the road to recovery you get the bigger your letters will become. 

  1. Continue to draw letters B – C – D – E – F etc. as big as you can comfortably until you either get to Z or you get tired. This exercise is that simple, but follow the guidelines listed below for the best possible result.

*Put great focus on drawing very slow, controlled letters with smooth movements, this is the key to restoring motor control to the muscles.

*If you notice that you start to get more pain from your ankle after a few days or weeks of doing this exercise, either stop all together or reduce the size of the letters you are drawing. 

*Don’t lose sight of the standing leg, maintaining good balance is an integral part of this exercise. 

*If you are back into normal activity after your sprain do your unsprained ankle too!!! While you draw with the good ankle you will strengthen the sprained ankle because it is balancing. It is also worth remembering that this is much a brain exercise as it is an ankle exercise, by doing the good ankle you will strengthen the pathway to the brain and benefit the sprained side. 

Wobble Pad Balance Exercise For Ankle Sprain Recovery 

  1. Stand 1 legged on the pad, on the same side as your dominant hand.
  2. Find your balance, engage your weight along the outer ⅔ of your foot ie. without leaning your weight inwards onto your big toe.
  3. Hold yourself as steady as you can for a full minute maintaining the same alignment. Try to be steady and control the left to right wobble to the best of your ability. *a good way to think of this is that if your weight leans in and on to your big toe, your ankle has collapsed and you have lost control.

*if you can’t be safe and steady unassisted use a hand on a door frame or a piece of furniture to keep yourself steady. You can gradually reduce the amount of assistance you give yourself until you only need a single finger for support, and then no support.

*this may be a simple exercise but don’t underestimate its power, it restores strength to the muscles of the entire leg which is vitally important if you want to have a chance of resolving your pain in the longer term.