An ankle sprain involves injury to one or more ligaments. Mild sprain can be caused due to overstretching and distress to ligaments, while severe sprain results in complete ligament tear.
These injuries are common. They can occur while walking or exercising on uneven surfaces or while engaging in sports that include running and jumping such as football, badminton, tennis, kabaddi, etc.
People with balance problems are also vulnerable to ankle sprain. Another cause of ankle sprain is wearing ill-fitted footwear or high heels. Most sprains heal with treatments like using an ice pack, elevation, medications, and simple rehabilitation exercises.
However, if the ankle remains swollen or is painful for several weeks despite these treatments, seek help from an orthopaedic or a physiotherapist to ensure you do not have a severe ankle sprain or a fracture. You might need several months to recover from a severe sprain. However, you can do some exercises at home to speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of re-injury.
One can do some basic balance exercises while standing on these objects. Start with a pillow and gradually challenge yourself with other ones. This is harder as your foot will wobble a lot and you will need to constantly maintain balance. You can take the support of a wall or a stable object. Start by doing this for 20-30 seconds and gradually increase it to a minute. Stop if you begin to feel pain in your ankle.
Symptoms of ankle sprain
Pain, both at rest and with weight-bearing activity
Avoid exercising or playing sports when tired or in pain
Wearing footwear that fits properly
Warm-up and stretch before physical activity
Ankle strengthening exercises
One can do a range of motion and weight-bearing exercises for strengthening the ankle. These exercises can be done with a resistance band, towel or belt.
Plantar flexion: This is a variation of the towel stretch, but with resistance. Sit on the floor. Place a pillow or a foam roll below your calf to keep your heel off the floor. Place the elastic band around the feet and hold the two ends or tie around a stable object. Slowly push your ankle forward as if you’re pointing your toes. Then slowly bring it back. Repeat five to 10 times.
Eversion: Tie the resistance band around a stable object. Place the foot inside the band with the outer side of the foot touching the band. Slowly move your foot outward. Repeat five to 10 times.
Inversion: Follow the same pattern as Eversion but in this, the inner part of the foot is in contact with the band. Now, slowly move your foot inward against the resistance band and bring it back. Repeat five to 10 times.
Single leg balance: This is a wonderful way to challenge your ankle. These exercises can be done on stable and unstable surfaces like pillows, Bosu balls, balance boards, etc.
Heel raise (Dorsiflexion): Stand straight with the support of a wall or a chair. Place your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly rise on your toes and come down. Repeat five to 10 times.
(The writer is ACSM and Yoga Alliance certified personal and group trainer)