Ankle Injury and Rehabilitation
An Ankle Injury Is Very Common
Consider everything ankles do for us in a day. They help to support us in every vertical activity that we do. Ankles take us walking, running, jumping and even dancing! However, ankles are an often ignored joint when people are putting together work out plans for themselves.
We take them for granted until something happens, making it difficult for us to get around. Ankle injuries are very common, very few people, especially those of us who love sports, have gotten away without having at least one ankle injury or inversion sprain in a lifetime.
Inversion sprains occur when the ankle “rolls out” and happens in sports with quick movements involving multiple directional changes. They are also common in contact sports when ankles can get caught on another competitor’s foot or when they get crushed underneath a pile of players.
An ankle injury should be assessed and treated by a health professional before attempting any exercise programs. Your physiotherapist should give you an initial exercise prescription that your certified personal trainer can modify as the ankle injury heals.
Proprioception and Balance Training
Proprioception is the body’s capability to understand where it is in time and space. Training balance during personal training sessions will increase your body’s ability to understand certain movement patterns, therefore, decreasing the chance of an ankle injury and increasing function.
Storks: Stand on one leg, starting on the floor initially graduating to standing on a foam yoga block then a wobble board. Hold the position 5 seconds to start for 5 reps, increase to 10 seconds for 5 reps, 15 seconds for 4 reps, 30 seconds for 2 reps and then finally 1 rep for 60 seconds. Once you can achieve 60 seconds add in the yoga block following the same time increases, then exchange the block for the wobble board.
Quarter Single Leg Squats: Stand on one leg, bend the knee ensuring you don’t go below 45 degrees, ensure that your knee does not pass your toe and you shift your weight towards your heel not the toe. Start with 5 – 8 reps increasing until you can do 12 – 15 reps on each leg for 2 – 3 sets.
Arthritis and tendonitis are also common problems with ankles that cause pain. Strengthening and stretching are imperative to maintain function and improve range of motion.
Initial exercise should include dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, inversion and eversion using a Theraband to ensure the ankle is strengthened from all angles. Sit on the floor or bench with the leg straight to perform these exercises with the band around the top of your foot.
Plantar flexion: Point your toe, hold for 5 seconds and release, do 5 reps to start increasing by 1-2 reps each day until you can achieve 12 reps, then add on another set.
Inversion: Turn your foot in, then bring it back to neutral, do 5 reps to start increasing by 1-2 reps each day until you can achieve 12 reps then add on another set.
Eversion: Turn your foot out, then bring it back to neutral, do 5 reps to start increasing by 1-2 reps each day until you can achieve 12 reps then add on another set.
Dorsiflexion: Take the band and attach it to a low piece of solid furniture in front of you, put the band around your toe and then plant the heel on the floor while you are pulling the toe towards your shins.Do 5 reps to start increasing by 1-2 reps each day until you can achieve 12 reps then add on another set.
Ankle Circles: Sit on a chair with one knee bent and straighten the other leg. Lift your foot off the floor 2 -3 inches then move your foot counter clockwise for 15 – 20 reps, stop rest for 10 seconds then lift the leg again and rotate it clockwise for 15 to 20 reps. You can also perform this exercise seated on a bench with the foot hanging over the end. Do 2 – 3 sets on each leg.
Alphabet: Sitting, lift your foot off of the ground, point your toes and then trace the alphabet in the air doing both upper and lower case letters.
Lateral Hop : These are essential to redevelop stability for sports when you are doing lateral directional changes such as basketball or soccer. Start with your feet hip width apart, then lift one of your feet slightly off the ground. Balance on the opposing foot and hop over a line on the ground, hop back and forth for 20 – 30 seconds, then repeat with the other foot. Rest for 30 seconds between sets, do 2 – 3 sets on each foot.
Calf Raise: Face a wall and stand with your feet hip width apart, place hands on the wall and keep the knees straight. Lift the heels off of the ground slowly, rolling up on to the balls of the feet. Ensure you don’t roll the ankles; only go up as high as you can maintain a neutral ankle position. Slowly lower back down to the ground. Perform 2 – 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps.
Heel Walks: Stand with your feet hip width apart, lift the toes off of the floor standing on your heels; walk forward on your heels for 20 steps forward, then 20 steps backwards. Repeat for 2 – 3 sets.
These ankle exercises should be done in conjunction with a complete lower body and core program to help support the whole lower body kinetic chain. Speak to your certified personal trainer about developing a balanced program that includes strength exercises, stretches and foam rolling.
Learn more as an elite personal trainer, take the “Hip, Knee and Ankle Rehabilitation” workshop with Andre Noel Potvin. You will be able to explain and implement general exercise rehabilitation guidelines and exercise prescription for a variety of common conditions related to the hip, knee and ankle.
Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL, Rehabilitation Specialist, Pharm Tech (Level 3)