Recovery in Motion: Uncovering Physical Therapy for Sprained Ankles

physical therapy for sprained ankle

Dealing with a sprained ankle can be both frustrating and painful. However, there is good news for you, physical therapy can play a crucial role in your healing journey. Whether you’re an athlete aiming to get back on the field or simply just want to regain your mobility, understanding how physical therapy can aid in your sprained ankle recovery is quite essential.

What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Sprained Ankle?Understanding Sprained Ankle: Causes and Symptoms

A sprained ankle is a common injury that occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle joint are stretched or torn. While sprained ankles can happen to anyone, they are particularly common in athletes or those who engage in physical activities.

Causes of a Sprained Ankle:

  • Sudden Twisting Movements: One of the most common causes of a sprained ankle is a sudden twisting of the foot. This can happen while walking on uneven surfaces or landing in the wrong way from a jump.
  • Sports Injuries: Athletes that participate in sports that involve running, jumping, and quick changes of direction have higher chances of spraining their ankles. Sports like basketball, soccer, and tennis can often cause this.
  • Accidental Falls: Tripping, slipping, or falling can cause the ankle to twist, thus, leading to ligament damage and a sprained ankle.
  • Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or have poor traction can increase the risk of ankle sprains, especially when engaging in physical activities.

Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle:

  1. Pain and Tenderness: The affected area of the ankle may be painful to touch, and you may also experience a dull or sharp pain, depending on the severity of the sprain.
  2. Swelling: Swelling around the ankle joint is a common symptom of a sprained ankle. This swelling may develop rapidly after the injury.
  3. Bruising: A sprained ankle may sometimes lead to bruising around the injured area. The bruising may take a day or two to appear.
  4. Limited Range of Motion: It becomes challenging to move your ankle after as freely, as usual, due to the pain and swelling.
  5. Instability: Ankle sprains can weaken the ligaments that stabilize the joint, causing a feeling of instability or wobbliness when standing or walking.
  6. Popping Sensation: Some individuals report hearing or feeling a popping sensation.

Role Of Physical Therapy In Recovery Of Sprained Ankle

The Role of Physical Therapy in Sprained Ankle Recovery

Physical therapy for sprained ankles plays a crucial role in the recovery process, offering a range of benefits that aid healing, restore function, and prevent future issues. Here are some key advantages of incorporating physical therapy into your ankle sprain recovery:

Optimal Healing

Physical therapists are skilled in designing personalized treatment plans that facilitate efficient healing of injured ligaments. They use a variety of techniques, such as manual therapy, modalities, and therapeutic exercises, to enhance blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue repair.

Pain Management

Ankle sprains usually cause pain and discomfort. Physical therapists use techniques that help in alleviating pain. These techniques mainly include hands-on techniques, therapeutic exercises, and modalities like ice and heat therapy. By addressing pain early, they can help you progress through your recovery more comfortably.

Restoration of Mobility

Scar tissue formation during the healing process can reduce joint mobility. Physical therapists guide you through specific stretches and exercises that can restore your ankle’s range of motion. They work to prevent stiffness and ensure that your joint moves smoothly.

Strength and Stability

Ankle sprains weaken the muscles around the joint. Physical therapy involves strengthening exercises that gradually rebuild muscle strength. Strengthening the surrounding muscles provides better support to the injured area, reducing the risk of re-injury.

Balance and Proprioception

Physical therapy for sprained ankle incorporates balance and proprioception exercises into your rehabilitation plan. These exercises improve your body’s awareness of position and movement, enhancing stability and preventing future falls or sprains.

Functional Training

Whether your goal is to walk, run, or return to sports, physical therapists tailor exercises to replicate real-life movements. This functional training helps you regain the skills needed for your daily activities or sports performance.

Customized Approach

Every individual’s injury and recovery are unique. Physical therapists assess your specific needs and create a customized treatment plan. They monitor your progress closely, adjusting the plan as needed to ensure steady improvement.

Prevention of Recurrence

Ankle sprains can increase the risk of future injuries. Physical therapists educate you about proper footwear, techniques for injury prevention, and strategies to maintain ankle health. By addressing weaknesses and imbalances, they help reduce the likelihood of future sprains.

Guidance and Education

Physical therapists provide guidance on self-care techniques, including icing, taping, and home exercises. They educate you about the importance of proper mechanics, body alignment, and posture to minimize strain on the healing ankle.

Confidence and Motivation

Ankle sprains can make a significant impact on your motivation. Physical therapists provide continuous support, encouragement, and expert guidance, helping you stay committed to your recovery.

Exercises For Recovery From A Sprained AnkleExercises You Can Do At Home For Recovery from a sprained ankle

Here are some effective home exercises for a sprained ankle that can aid in the recovery process and promote healing. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist before starting any exercise regimen, especially if you’re dealing with a sprained ankle.

  1. Ankle Circles: Sit on a chair or the edge of a bed. Then, gently rotate your injured ankle in a circular motion, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Perform 10 circles in each direction.
  2. Toe Tapping: Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your injured foot slightly off the ground and tap your toes on the floor. Repeat for 15-20 taps, then switch to the other foot.
  3. Alphabet Writing: Sit down and use your big toe to “write” the alphabet in the air. This helps improve ankle mobility and range of motion.
  4. Calf Raises (Single-Leg): Stand on your uninjured leg while holding onto a sturdy surface for support. Slowly raise your injured foot off the ground, lifting your heel as high as comfortable. Lower your heel back down and repeat for 10-15 reps.
  5. Towel Scrunches: Place a towel on the floor and use your toes to scrunch it towards you. Release and repeat for 10-15 scrunches.
  6. Heel Slides: Lie on your back with your injured leg extended. Gently slide your heel towards your buttocks, bending your knee. Slide your heel back out and repeat for 10-15 reps.
  7. Balancing Exercises: Stand on your uninjured leg, lifting your injured leg slightly off the ground. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs. Now, as you progress, try closing your eyes or performing the exercise.

Perform these exercises within your comfort range. If you experience pain or discomfort while doing any of these exercises, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional.

Long-Term Strategies And MaintenanceLong-Term Strategies and Maintenance

Recovering from an ankle injury is an important accomplishment, but ensuring long-term ankle health is equally essential. After undergoing physical therapy for a sprained ankle or other injury, you can take proactive steps to prevent future injuries and maintain the strength and stability of your ankles. Here are some valuable strategies and maintenance tips to keep your ankles strong and resilient:

  1. Maintain a Consistent Exercise Routine: Incorporate regular exercises that focus on ankle strength, flexibility, and balance. Perform exercises like calf raises, ankle circles, and single-leg stands to improve stability and prevent muscle imbalances.
  2. Wear Appropriate Footwear: Choose footwear that provides adequate support and cushioning for your activities. Properly fitted shoes with good arch support can significantly reduce the risk of ankle injuries.
  3. Warm-Up and Stretch: Prior to engaging in physical activities or sports, perform a thorough warm-up followed by dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles and joints for movement.
  4. Gradual Progression: If you’re returning to sports or vigorous activities, gradually increase the intensity and duration to give your ankles time to adjust. Avoid overexertion which can lead to strain or re-injury.
  5. Supportive Bracing or Taping: In high-risk situations or during activities that involve sudden movements, consider using ankle braces or taping for added support. Consult a physical therapist for guidance on proper application.
  6. Proper Technique: Whether you’re walking, running, or participating in sports, focus on maintaining proper technique and form to reduce strain on your ankles.
  7. Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Adequate hydration and a balanced diet contribute to overall joint health. Proper nutrition supports tissue repair and growth, aiding in the prevention of injuries.
  8. Regular Check-ins: Schedule periodic appointments with a physical therapist or healthcare professional to assess your ankle health, receive guidance, and make necessary adjustments to your maintenance routine.


Physical therapy not only facilitates recovery but also empowers you to take charge of your ankle health. Through targeted exercises, personalized guidance, and expert care, physical therapists can help you regain strength, flexibility, and stability. Whether you’re an athlete striving to return to peak performance or an individual seeking to prevent future injuries, the principles of physical therapy provide a solid foundation.

Physical Therapy helps patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back, Shoulder, Knee, Neck, Elbow, Hip, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.