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Ankle Sprain Recovery: A Step-by-Step Physiotherapy Guide

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An ankle sprain is a common injury that affects many people, whether they're athletes, casual sports enthusiasts, or simply caught off-guard by an uneven step. The road to recovery can be swift and effective with the right approach. ZoomPhysio is dedicated to providing accessible, expert advice to help you recover from an ankle sprain. Here's our step-by-step physiotherapy guide, complete with exercises and preventive measures to ensure a strong comeback.

Understanding Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and, in severe cases, tear. These injuries can range from mild to severe and are classified based on the extent of ligament damage.

Immediate Steps Post-Injury


Avoid putting weight on the injured ankle to prevent further damage.


Apply ice to the ankle for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours to reduce swelling.


Use a bandage or compression wrap to minimise swelling.


Keep the ankle raised above heart level to help reduce swelling and pain.

Phase 1: Mobility and Gentle Stretching

Once the swelling begins to subside, gentle mobility exercises can help restore range of motion.

AROM ankle inversion

Start in a seated position with your legs straight.Invert your ankle by turning the sole of your foot towards the midline of the body. Do not move your knee or the hip to create this range of motion, move your ankle only.

AROM ankle eversion

Sit down with your legs extended out straight. Start with your ankle in a neutral position and slowly evert your ankle by rotating the sole of your foot away from midline of the body. Do not move your knee or hip to create this range of motion, strictly move your ankle only.

AROM ankle dorsiflexion

Start in a seated position with your legs out straight. Pull your toes up towards your head, keeping the leg straight. The knee stays flat on the table as your move the foot up and down.

AROM ankle plantarflexion

Start in a seated position with your legs out straight. Point your toes down as far as you can, and then back to neutral position. The knee stays straight during this exercise

Phase 2: Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles around the ankle will help support the injured ligaments and prevent future sprains.

Active ankle inversion/eversion

Sit upright in a chair with your feet hip’s width apart, flat on the floor. Place a towel on the floor to the outside of your affected foot. Keeping your heel on the floor and your leg stable, grasp and pull the towel towards your centre with your affected foot. Repeat until the entire towel has been pulled between your feet. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Hold and relax, heel raises

Sit upright on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.Slowly raise your heels up keeping your toes in contact with the floor.

Phase 3: Balance and Proprioception

Improving your balance and proprioception (the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body) is crucial for full recovery.

Single leg balance

Stand with your legs straight at shoulder width apart. Now lean slightly to the side and at the same time bend your opposite knee. You can make this more difficult by bending further but only within the limits of your mobility.

Phase 4: Gradual Return to Activity

As your strength and balance improve, gradually incorporate more dynamic exercises and eventually return to your normal activities.

  • Jogging: Start with light jogging on a flat surface.
  • Agility Drills: Incorporate agility drills like side-to-side movements or zig-zag running, ensuring your ankle can handle quick direction changes.

Preventive Measures

  • Warm-up Properly: Before any physical activity, ensure a thorough warm-up to prepare your muscles and ligaments.
  • Wear Supportive Footwear: Choose shoes that offer good ankle support, especially if you've experienced sprains in the past.
  • Strengthen and Stretch: Regularly perform exercises to strengthen your ankles and improve flexibility.

Recovering from an ankle sprain requires patience, dedication, and the right approach to physiotherapy. By following this step-by-step guide, you're not just working towards recovery but also preventing future injuries. Remember, every individual's recovery process is unique, so listen to your body and consult with a physiotherapy professional if you have concerns. ZoomPhysio is here to support your journey to recovery, providing expert advice and online physiotherapy treatment plans, tailored to your individual needs, such as this Ankle Pain Plan.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on this site are intended to provide an outline and basic guidance only. Please be aware, ZoomPhysio content and exercises may not be appropriate for all. It is important that exercises are carried out in the correct way to maximise benefit and reduce the risk of injury. If you are unsure if this is appropriate in your circumstances, we recommend you consult a healthcare professional.

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