lunges

A sprained ankle can take you out of the game for weeks, as pain, swelling, and dysfunction prevent you from working, taking care of your family, and engaging in your favorite pastimes. Sprains can also affect the strength of your ankles, as each sprain can weaken the structure of the joint.

Weak ankles can cause chronic ankle instability, a condition that allows the outer side of the ankle to “give way,” which can cause you to stumble or fall unexpectedly when you are walking or even when you are standing still. Fortunately, ankle stability exercises can help you strengthen weak ankles after a sprain.

The ankle is a complex structure consisting of bones, muscles, and connective tissue that allows you to maintain your balance as you stand, walk, or run on uneven terrain. Ligaments in the ankle connect the bones of the feet with the bones of the lower legs. These tough bands of tissue also stabilize the ankle joint and prevent the ankle from collapsing, twisting, or folding.

A sprain occurs when these ligaments overstretch or tear. An ankle sprain usually occurs when someone twists their ankle in an unnatural direction.

How Balance Training for Ankle Sprain Can Strengthen Ankles and Feet

Balance training for ankle sprains helps strengthens the muscles that support the ligaments of the ankles, thereby improving stability in the ankle joint. For optimal strengthening and balance improvement, work both the left and right ankles to be equally strong.

How can I strengthen my ankle after a sprain?

You can perform ankle stability exercises to strengthen your ankle after a sprain.

  • Single-leg standing

Using a chair or other sturdy object for stability, stand with your legs directly under your body with your weight distributed evenly between your feet. Shift your weight onto one foot and hold for a few seconds; add time as you improve. Shift your weight onto the other foot and hold. Repeat each set several times. Perform single-leg standing once every day.

For added benefit, start performing this exercise while standing on a hard surface then move to a soft surface as you gain strength.

  • Single-leg standing with movement

This exercise is more challenging than single-leg standing. Start by standing with your weight distributed evenly between your feet. As you shift your weight onto one foot, lift the leg without the weight off the floor slowly. Hold onto the chair or sturdy object while you move your lifted leg: swing your leg back behind your body, for example, or bend it at the knee and lift it up towards your waist then back down.

Repeat with the other leg.

  • Lunges

Stand with your feet together. Take one step forward and bend the forward leg until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Allow your back knee to drop towards the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds before stepping in with your back leg.

Repeat with the other leg.

  • Roman deadlifts

Roman deadlifts use weights to speed up strengthening. Stand with a weight, such as a kettlebell, in your right hand. Bend at the waist slowly while maintaining control of the body. Lower the weight towards the floor while extending your right leg back; hold this position for a few seconds before returning to a standing position.

Repeat these ankle balance exercises ten times on each side of the body.

For best results from ankle stability exercises, remember to warm up, stretch, and apply ice and heat as needed.