This article will cover lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques. We have written a previous ankle [P]Rehab article on how to [P]Rehab your ankles and initially manage a lateral ankle sprain. However, how do you get the ankle back to 100%? What exercises should you include in the athlete’s training sessions to best prepare them for returning to play? What can clinicians do hands-on to rehab and help support a lateral ankle sprain? Read more to find out!

 

Why Use The Y Balance Exercise?

The Y-Balance exercise comes from the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT), which is a common functional test to examine dynamic ankle stability. Functional tests themselves can become interventions and exercises, thus you have the Y-Balance exercise! Functional tests are important to perform because they provide a format to communicate an individual’s current functional capacity. Functional tests also help to determine a starting point and track progress toward a return to sports participation. You can click here to learn more about the SEBT.

One of my favorite sayings is – you cannot track progress without measuring change

The Y-Balance exercise is a dynamic single leg exercise that works on balance, proprioception, and strength. Depending on the direction you reach, the ankle joint will have to move through varying positions of ankle dorsiflexion, pronation, and supination. Deceleration of joint motions is so important to train when recovering from an injury to mitigate the risk of re-injury or secondary injury. As much as this exercise can be a starting point for individuals recovering from a lateral ankle sprain, there are ways to ramp it up to add it to the list of lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques.

 

Don’t Let An Ankle Sprain Happen To You Again
ankle sprain prehab program the prehab guys

Lateral ankle sprains are the most common lower-body injury to occur in sports and recreational physical activities. Ankle sprains can be challenging and frustrating due to also having the highest reinjury rate amongst any lower-body injuries. This high reinjury rate is likely because the ankle sprain wasn’t properly managed in the first place. It’s time to change the narrative with [P]rehab.

 

Lateral Ankle Sprain Advanced Exercises

Here is an article that suggests poor performance on the SEBT can predict lower extremity injury risk.

Adding an unstable surface to the Y-Balance is one simple way to make this exercise more challenging. Unstable surface training has received a lot of criticism about whether it actually improves performance, and whether or not it is a waste of time including this training for individuals. There is also mixed evidence when examining the benefits of unstable surface training with results in-favor and against this type of training. HOWEVER, with that being said unstable surface training has its place to help an individual improve their balance and proprioception. When programmed APPROPRIATELY in an individuals rehab and strengthening and conditioning program, it can help an individual get back to doing the things they love to do!

If you don’t like unstable surfaces, you can add other components to the Y-Balance to add it to the list of lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques including…

  • Eyes closed

 

  • Increase/decrease speed of movement

 

  • Add external load (weight in either hand)

 

  • manual perturbations

 

Ankle sprains are one of the more common soccer-related injuries, in addition to hamstring strains, groin strains, and quad strains. Read our blog article below to learn the best soccer exercises for injury prevention!

READ: THE BEST SOCCER EXERCISES FOR INJURY PREVENTION

soccer injury prevention exercises the prehab guys

 

Advanced Calf Strengthening

Sample Ankle Sprain [P]rehab Program Exercise

Here is one of my favorite squat variations to target the calves and dynamic ankle stability. I typically add this once an individual feels comfortable with heel raises standing and heel raises in a squatted position. I also like to program this with side steps on toes. Definitely add this to the list of lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques!

 

Check Out This Youtube Video For More Lateral Ankle Sprain Content

 

Single Leg Balance With The Ankle Inverted

“You didn’t get hurt on the table, you’re likely not going to get better on the table” -IKN

This is one of my go-to lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques. Training positions of vulnerability is important for a few reasons…

  • It is important to be able to tolerate and CONTROL these positions

 

  • It is important to regain CONFIDENCE in these positions

 

  • It is important to practice multi-tasking (sport specific movements) in these positions

 

Often there is a lot of time spent avoiding and minimizing these vulnerable positions. However, it is imperative that an individual has the ability to decelerate and control positions of vulnerability. This principle can be applied to other injuries such as an ACL – decelerating dynamic knee valgus should be a major focus in ACL prehab and rehab!

LISTEN: ACL INJURIES WITH WESLEY WANG

acl rehab wesley wang prehab guys

 

Forward & Lateral Bosu Lunges With Single Leg Balance

This is on the list of lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques for a few reasons…

  • Promotes dynamic ankle and lower body stability

 

  • Promotes learning deceleration

 

  • Promotes speed and muscular power by practicing a powerful dynamic push-off

 

  • Promotes confidence in the sprained ankle

 

Should you and can you do this on both sides?! Absolutely!

 

Lateral Hop & Stick

Let’s break down what is the most important movement an individual needs to CONTROL after a lateral ankle sprain… lateral movements! When you move laterally (if it is your right ankle -> moving to your right) the ankle has to decelerate an external inversion force to maintain contact with the ground. If you were to hop to your right and loss your balance to the right, your big toe, as well as the medial side of your foot, would come off the ground positioning your ankle into inversion. When the time is right, I have every individual that has experienced a lateral ankle sprain perform this exercise.

You can make this exercise easier or harder! It doesn’t have to look like this…

Remove the bosu, decrease the distance covered, and provide upper body support, you decide! Yes, these are advanced lateral ankle sprain exercises, however, you can modify and regress everything shown thus far to challenge the sprained ankle appropriately! The beauty of all these lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques is that you can alter them however you’d like!

 

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The Prehab membership is the anti-barrier solution to keeping your body healthy. Access state-of-the-art physical therapy, fitness programs, and workouts online in the comforts of your own home or gym! Taking control of your health with exercise & education from the palm of your hand has never been easier. Get access to 50+ programs, 100+ unique workouts, and 3000+ exercises to build your own workout routines. Trial it for free, and learn how to get out of pain, avoid injury, and optimize your health with [P]rehab!

 

Lateral Ankle Sprains: Hands-on Techniques

Below are some interventions that you can add in to your treatment plan as a physical therapist when working with patients who have lateral ankle sprains!

Ankle Rhythmic Stabilization

Working ankle stability is key following a lateral ankle sprain. With repeated lateral ankle sprain cases, the concern for Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI) increases. There are great partner exercises for soccer players that target the hamstrings (Nordic Hamstring Curl) and adductors (Copenhagen Adduction), what about the ankle?!

Here is a PNF Rhythmic Stabilization exercise designed for the ankle that I use with athletes. Notice I have the patient close his eyes here to really focus on stabilizing his ankle. I think as PTs and other clinicians we do a great job utilizing hands-on Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) techniques for regions like the shoulder, but why not use them for other regions like the ankle?! This is a must-add for lateral ankle sprain advanced exercises & techniques.

I think this is a great exercise teammates could add to their strengthening and conditioning programs. I like to program it with 3 to 4 sets of 15-30 seconds matching the individual’s resistance. It is important to not overpower the individual’s ankle and make it move too much! Also, don’t feel limited to this position, however, I like this position because it allows you to stabilize the person’s leg and not let them cheat.

 

Lateral Ankle Stability Tape Technique

Why tape? Tape can help with pain mitigation and neurosensory input.

After an injury such as an ankle sprain, people tend to deal with a lot of pain. Pain can interfere with the mind-body connection leading to abnormal movement patterns. Tape can help with the connection and perception of movement between our brain and our body, which can help with pain and ultimately help people move better! Demonstrated in this video is a lateral ankle stability tape technique using Cover-Roll and Leukotape.

 

Is the tape keeping the ankle in place and limiting motion? – NO

Be sure to watch and listen to the entire video as I talk about what the tape job does/does not do and why I choose the angles and anchors that I did. In short – the tape is giving the individual FEEDBACK as to what position his ankle is moving into. The skin is one of the largest, if not the largest, organ in our body. Sensory fibers are the fastest fibers in the body – tapping into this system can potentially improve that mind-body connection we spoke of earlier, which can tell the individual exactly where their ankle is in relation to space EARLIER than it would without tape. As we know, ankle sprains can lead to proprioception deficits for up to a YEAR, why wouldn’t you want to consider giving the ankle more input and feedback?

Could it simply be a placebo? Yes, however, we know in sports there are a lot of things that are placebo (simply a person doing the same exact warm-up routine a certain way) that the athlete swears it improves their performance. In this case, the athlete felt less pain and was more confident with his ankle and his ability to play soccer after I tapped it. Will I continue to tape it long-term? No, but for the short term, if it helps to get my athlete back on the field sooner I will do it!

 

Closing Thoughts

Lateral ankle sprains are not only one of the most common injuries that people sustain, but it also has one of the highest reoccurrence rates. Therefore, even when the ankle is having no pain at all, and you feel back to your 100%, do not forget about exercises that train the foot and ankle! If you continue to keep your ankle strong, mobile, and stable, it will help you prevent injuries in the future!

 

Take Ownership of Your Ankle Health
ankle sprain prehab program the prehab guys

What do poor-smelling cologne or perfume and ankle sprains have in common? They both can leave behind a lingering discomfort in the sensory system. The other commonality is that they can both be changed! Building up ankle stability, proprioception, strength, and power will both reduce the likelihood of ankle injuries or get rid of any lingering discomfort that may be present. As for the bad cologne or perfume, you know what to do here.

 

About The Author

Craig Lindell, PT, DPT, CSCS

[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Content Officer

craig lindell the prehab guysCraig is a South Jersey native & Penn State Kinesiology Alumni. When the opportunity came, Craig packed his bags and drove to California to pursue his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California. With [P]rehab, Craig oversees all digital content creation and multi-channel publication that reaches millions of people on a weekly basis. As a PT, Craig has a wide array of experience from working with various neurological conditions to working with collegiate & professional athletes across the Big Five in North American sports. Experiencing physical therapy first-hand as a soccer player in high school, Craig has a passion & special interest in adolescent athletic development working with young athletes to overcome injuries. In his spare time, Craig enjoys exercising, playing golfing, hiking, traveling, watching Philly sports, and spending quality time with his family.

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

About the author : Arash Maghsoodi PT, DPT, CSCS

14 Comments

  1. Julia April 1, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you for these! I am a dancer who has struggled with repeated ankle sprains. I’ve noticed that typical stability rehab exercises aren’t challeneging enough to meet the needs of dancers. I think a huge part of that is recruitment and proprioception as well as training stability in extremely dynamic situations.

    In addition, I will try these exercises on both sides, since I recent learned that injury can reduce stability both the injured and uninjured leg due to changes postural patterns – Wikstrom EA, Naik S, Lodha N, Cauraugh JH. Balance capabilities after lateral ankle trauma and intervention: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41:1287–1295.

    • Michael Lau April 21, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      We have huge proponents of working both sides for the reasons you laid out! Hope these exercises have continued to help!

  2. Vibrators May 17, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Wester J U, Jespersen S M, Nielsen K D, Neumann L. Wobble board training after partial sprains of the lateral ligaments of the ankle: a prospective randomized study.

  3. Allen H. November 29, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Any ideas for chronic Peroneal Tendonopathy ? Tried everything ( strengthening, soft tissue work ) keeps coming back. One thing that seems to provide the most relief although temporary is ankle manipulation.

    • Michael Lau January 13, 2020 at 7:33 pm

      Got to load it! Can be tricky but tons and tons of heavy loading will do any tendinopathy wonders!

  4. Akima March 28, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Hi guys
    Had achilles strain and had leg in cast for about 20 days plantar flexed !
    Now cant dorsiflex because of pinching pain in front of my leg. Doing all kinda of stretches with band in front of ankle Etc… And cant go to doctor because this corona virus thing. Any ideas? Should i rest it or continue with stretching

    • Michael Lau April 6, 2020 at 11:47 am

      Hey Akima,

      As long as the pinching is in front, you should be good. You don’t want to overly stretch the calf the first few weeks.

      We also have a complete ankle prehab program that you can check out here. Think of this as your PT! https://theprehabguys.com/foot-ankle-prehab-program/. In our programs, we have a discussion board where we would be able to answer all your questions as you are going through it!

  5. Akima March 30, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Any ideas how to fix anterior ankle impingement? Im doing banded mobilizations an stretches but nothing helps, had my leg Immobilized in a plantarflexed position for about 10 days and cant dorsiflex now, feel pinching pain near talus bone.

  6. Nader nashat December 24, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Nice

  7. Winona Phelps March 23, 2021 at 10:56 am

    I loved your video! I got a left lateral sprain and left peroneal strain about 3 weeks ago. I tried to ignore it for a while but the swelling around the malleolus and pain remained so I finally went to my doctor last week. He ordered PT for me but when I called they couldn’t get me in for 6 weeks.
    So I did a search on line and found your video. It was so helpful to me and I will be using some of the exercises you recommended.
    I am 74 years old and hurt it when I was exercising to stay in shape! Haha, that’ll teach me.

    • Sherif Elnaggar March 23, 2021 at 12:31 pm

      Thank you so much for your support!! Sorry to hear that you could not get into PT sooner, but we are very pleased to here this has helped you in the meantime. Best of luck with your recovery!!

  8. Semesa Cama November 25, 2021 at 12:04 am

    Last night I rolled (lateral left inversion) my left ankle again crossing on a road hump at work.. and given my history of ETFL I fink incorrect healing I had it elevated and rested rest of shift and today I’m watching this tutorial and I tried the Y exercise and medial lunge, boy did the ligament feel it and yeah also had compression on last night so minimal swelling. Going to hav a professional diagnosis of if 1-3 class tear but for now this exercises are epic. Will let y’all know in a few weeks tym.. I’m an avid Vollyballer middle player btw

    • Team [P]Rehab November 26, 2021 at 6:33 am

      Hi Semesa!

      Sorry to hear about your recent ankle injury. Thank you for taking the time to interact with this article and attempting to take ownership of your own care! If you are seeking more guidance please reach out to us at theprehabguys@gmail.com, as we have a full ankle sprain rehab program that can take you through step-by-step how to rehab ankle sprains on your own, as well as a foot and ankle program prehab program that can help to any future injuries!

      All The Best,

      Team [P]Rehab

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