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A physical therapist helps a patient with their ankle workout using a green resistance band.
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Ankle band exercises are often used to rehabilitate ankle injuries such as sprains and strains. Once you can comfortably bear weight on your ankle, strengthening it is essential for the recovery process.

One of the most common injuries caused by physical activity during sports or daily movements is ankle sprains, with an estimated 25,000 of these injuries happening to unlucky Americans every day, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Of course, anyone can sprain their ankle whether they are participating in sports or not, but if you play ball sports such as basketball, volleyball and soccer, you are more likely to experience this injury.

Read more: Ankle-Friendly Cardio

Strengthening Is Essential for Sprains

Sprains are any injury to the ligaments, which are the fibers that connect bones providing strength to your skeleton, and also supporting mobility in the joints. The outer ligaments of the ankle are the typical culprit for a sprain. Luckily, our bodies happen to be quite proficient at healing ligament injuries.

Swelling will occur relatively soon after the injury as your body sends blood to the area to try and heal it. The swelling may occur for quite some time since your foot is a farther distance away from your heart. You can apply the RICE procedure, which includes rest, ice, compression and elevation, to help reduce pain and swelling while improving healing time.

However, it is vital to start returning to your normal exercise and daily activities as soon as possible since this will further aid in the recovery process and speed healing, according to the AAOS.

A May 2016 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science performed a 12-week rehabilitation exercise program on 26 soccer players with the aim of improving muscle strength in the ankle to reduce the risks of subsequent injuries in those who have had an ankle sprain.

According to the study, over 70 percent of patients who've experienced ankle sprains report additional symptoms, including re-injury or abnormal functioning. The study determined that muscle strengthening exercises are essential for rehabilitating the ankle. The research shows that ankle muscle strength improvements can prevent injury and provide functional stability to the ankle.

Read more: Yoga and a Sprained Ankle

Strengthening Ankles with Resistance Bands

The following exercises to help strengthen your ankle after a sprain are provided by the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). The AOFAS recommends beginning these exercises as soon as you can bear weight comfortably on the affected ankle, and your range of motion is almost back to pre-injury ability.

Perform these 4-way ankle Thera-Band exercises (Thera-Band is a brand name but there are other bands you can use and buy) for 10 repetitions on each side.

1. Plantarflexion

  1. Sit in a chair and place a resistance band around your forefoot while holding the ends in your hand.
  2. Push your ankle down, pointing your toes as far as you can, and then return to the starting position.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.

2. Dorsiflexion

  1. Secure your resistance band around a sturdy anchor point and wrap the ends around your forefoot.
  2. Begin with your foot pointing downwards and then pull your ankle up as far as you can, straightening your foot so that your toes are pointing towards the ceiling.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.

3. Inversion

  1. With the band secured, wrap the band around the inside of your ankle, around the foot and stand up.
  2. Begin in a relaxed stance and proceeded to move your ankle down and inwards towards the center of your body. Then return to the relaxed position.

4. Eversion

  1. With the band still secured to its anchor point, wrap the band around the outside of your ankle and hold your foot in a relaxed position.
  2. Move your foot up and out, away from the midline of your body. Then return it to the resting position.

For a video demonstration on a similar way to perform these ankle band exercises for feet and ankles, you can see physical therapist Dr. Joe perform them.

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