I used to think that an ankle sprain or strain was really not a big deal. I have occasionally twisted my ankle over the years doing something mindless, such as stepping into a small ditch in the ground when I should have been more observant. My ankle would hurt for a day or so, and running would be a challenge, but I never really gave much thought to it becoming a long-term problem or anything completely aggravating outside of a nagging pain for a couple of days.
While most individuals will rapidly recover from an ankle sprain, it is not uncommon for such conditions to become chronic. It is imperative that proper rehabilitation is given to make sure that any and all physical deficiencies are treated.
Traditionally, when treating ankle sprains, the focus has primarily been on reducing the pain and swelling. How many of you have put your foot up on the couch and placed an ice pack on your affected ankle? It is also important to restore the joint range of motion and muscular flexibility, as well as increase muscular strength and endurance.
Old-school approaches typically involved the use of resistive exercises using special tubing and calf raises, using either the body weight of the athlete or weight machines. Once the patient could satisfactorily perform these exercises, it was presumed she could safely return to her activity.
Recently, the focus is directed more toward the strengthening of the entire lower extremity when treating ankle injuries. With such approaches, more emphasis is placed on single leg balance activities and on exercises that force the patient to stabilize the lower extremity against some form of external resistance.
With these types of exercises, the individual is basically simulating movement and body positions that will be encountered during the physical activity in which she participates.
There are a few simple exercises you can perform at home to strengthen your ankles, as well as to enhance the blood flow to the legs.