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Ankle Injury Rehab Program

An exercise routine for strengthening the muscles that support the ankle joint

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Updated September 04, 2013

Here is a basic ankle injury rehab program for strengthening. It should not replace an evaluation by your physician. This routine generally takes 20 minutes and should be done three times per week until full recovery. Do not attempt this program if you experience pain.

A proper, safe stretch should not be painful. To perform the following stretches properly move slowly, don’t bounce and hold for 15 seconds then switch sides and repeat 2- 4 times.

  1. Calf (gastrocnemius) Stretch - One
    Place you hands on a wall with right foot behind you. Keep right knee straight and heel touching the ground. Lean forward until you feel a stretch along your calf. (You may have to move the foot closer to the wall or further back in order to feel the stretch)
  2. Calf (soleus) Stretch - Two
    Place you hands on a wall with your right foot behind you. Bend your right knee, and keep the heel in contact with the ground. Lean forward until you feel a stretch along your calf.
  3. Range of Motion
    Sit with one leg crossed over the other. With the toes of the free foot ‘draw’ small circles in the air, clockwise then counterclockwise, for 10-15 seconds in each direction. For more advanced exercises ‘spell’ out the letters of the alphabet. Repeat with the other foot.
  4. Towel Scrunches
    Sit in a chair and stretch a towel on the floor in front of you. Begin with right foot and keep heel on the ground. Use your toes to ‘scrunch’ the towel towards you. Repeat 3 times. Switch Feet. (if too easy, place a book on the floor and then scrunch).
  5. Leg Swing on One Leg
    While balancing on one leg slowly swing the other leg forward then back through a full range of motions. Keep the knee straight and move from the hip. You can also swing the leg to the side. Do this for 10 seconds, rest and repeat several times.
  6. Toe Raises
    While standing with one hand on the back of a chair for support, raise up on your toes and hold for 2 seconds and lower. Don’t bounce. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions. When exercise becomes easy perform with one foot at a time.
  7. Toe Taps
    Sit in chair. Begin with right foot. Keep heel on the ground. Raise toes up toward body, then lower so toes touch ground. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions. Repeat toe taps for left foot.
  8. Jumps
    Make a cross on the ground using two strips of tape and mark each box from 1-4. Place both feet in 1 and jump into 2. Then go from 2 to 3, then 3 to 4 and finally 4 back to 1. Stay facing forward the entire time. Ensure you leave off the balls of the feet and land on the balls of the feet. Repeat exercise but jump from 1 to 4, 4 to 3, 3 to 2, 2 to 1. Do 10 jumps total, 5 in each direction. Begin slowly, then gradually increase speed. When exercise becomes easy, perform jumps with one foot at a time.

This program can help strength the muscles that support the ankle joint. Be careful and do not perform exercises that cause pain.

*Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program

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