When you sprain your ankle, for the first few days it’s best to rest it, apply ice and keep it elevated as much as possible. But when it starts to feel a little better, there are some exercises you can do to strengthen it.
Firstly, you can exercise the range of motion. You can do this by sitting in a comfy chair, extending your leg, and using your big toe to trace the alphabet in the air.
If it’s not painful, you can repeat this several times, and alternate between upper and lower case letters.
Another exercise you can do is to sit in a hard chair with your feet flat on the floor, and slowly move your knee from side to side for a few minutes. This will help to stretch and relax the ligaments in your ankle.
Towel curls are another helpful exercise – you simply sit down and place a towel on the floor in front of you, use your toes to pull the towel towards you and then to push it away.
When your ankle starts to improve a little more, there are some other exercises you can do to strengthen it even more.
You can sit down on the floor and stretch out your leg in front of you, put a towel around the ball of your foot, holding either end, and pull the towel slightly so that your toes move towards you and you can feel a slight stretch on your calf muscle. Hold it for about 30 seconds.
Once you have gained more strength in your ankle and you are able to stand without pain, you can try to put weight on it. Stand in a doorway and hold onto the frame as you lift your good foot off the floor behind you, and try to balance on your injured foot. Start by holding for a few seconds, and try to build it up to a minute if you can. When it becomes easier, try it without holding on to the door frame, and later try it with your eyes closed.