After having your ankle sprain accurately diagnosed, it’s important to begin rehab as soon as possible. As previously seen in blog ‘Physiotherapy for ankle injury’, early intervention includes working on the stiff ankle joint and restoring range of motion to allow for normal movement. Once this is achieved, the real work begins!
The aims of mid and late ankle rehab are to improve strength and proprioception. It’s important to regain strength similar to the uninjured side. In fact, we aim for athletes to return to 100% of their unaffected strength when returning to play. This means working on the strength of the muscles around the ankle, including the calf and peroneals, as well as the bigger muscles closer to the body that also lose their conditioning after an injury! Calf raises, resistance band work, and lunges are all examples of strength exercises for mid-to-late rehab.
Proprioception, put simply, is an awareness of where our limbs are in space. Having good joint sense means we don’t have to look down while we’re running to ensure we stay in control of our ankle joint! When a ligament is injured, we lose some of that awareness, making it an incredibly important part of ankle rehab. Single leg balance, hopping and landing, and walking with our eyes closed are all examples of proprioception exercises used during rehab.
Research tells us we’re 50% more likely to sprain our ankle again in the next six months after first doing so. This means ankle rehab is vital for decreasing your risk of missing matches! And ankle rehab doesn’t end once we’re back on the court, in order to stay on the court, ankle rehab should continue for another six weeks.
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