Get Moving: Exercises to Strengthen Weak, Stiff Ankles
By Arthur Kaplan, D.P.M.
September 15, 2011
Category: Foot
Tags: Stiff Ankles  

Stiff AnkleFollowing an ankle injury, such as a sprain, mild to severe,  you will inevitably lose some strength and range of motion after being immobilized for an extended period of time.  A weak ankle can hinder normal mobility and eventually lead to another injury.

Your ankle or leg may feel stiff, especially if treatment required wearing a cast or a walking boot. Stiffness and instability are common symptoms following an ankle injury that will need to be addressed in order to get you back to your normal range of motion and activity level.

At NY Sports Podiatry, Dr. Arthur Kaplan very often will recommend post-injury physical therapy and home exercises that will help you strengthen weak muscles surrounding the ankle joint and restore mobility to lower your risk of re-injury.  These series of stretches and exercises often include range of motion exercises for the injured ankle, stretching exercises for the calf muscles, strengthening excercises for the injured area and balancing excercises to improve proprioception.

Range of motion exercises help loosen stiff ankles while helping you regain any motion that was lost during the healing process.  It’s also important to keep your muscles flexible by stretching, especially prior to any workout or physical activity to decrease the risk of re-injury.  Sretching after your activity is also recommended.   As with all exercises, progress slowly and discontinue if painful.

The shoes you wear will also play an important role in protecting your injured ankle and restoring your mobility.  Supportive shoes will provide more comfort, better balance and help stabilize the weak ankle to prevent re-injury. Othotics or an ankle foot orthotic (AFO) may also be recommended to improve balance, proprioception and support.   Bracing or taping the injured area will also be recommended once you resume activity.

Proper care and rehabilitation following an ankle injury is critical to ensure your ankle fully heals. When you are given the green light to continue your sport always remember that your conditioning is not what it used to be prior to injury.  Your ankle is not qutie familiar to the pounding or the lateral pre-injury movements.  So please adhere to one of my most important post injury, post rehabilitation rules by "getting in and getting out."  Your first few times back on the court or field should be brief.  You can be agressive (that's the only way you know how to play) but make it short and sweet.  2 hours of agressive play is not what the doctor orders after rehabilitating your injury for 6-8 weeks.  Take your time getting back.    Wait at least 48 hours before you go back out again.  Make sure your ankle is strong and your are conditioned before you go full speed again.   Always feel free to consult me at NY Sports Podiatry if ankle pain or stiffness persists or worsens, and before starting any new exercise program.

Always with the athlete in mind,

Dr. Arthur J. Kaplan


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