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Sprained Ankle? What to Do Before Seeing Your Physical Therapist

by Kelsea Brajkovich Schroeder, DPT >> Telehealth Details >> Request an Appointment Ankle injuries are extremely common, accounting for 20% of all sports injuries in the US. If you sustain an ankle sprain, here is a compilation of exercises and steps to take until you can access your physical therapist for an in-depth evaluation. PRICE (Protection, Ice, Compression, Elevation) In the first 72 hours following ankle injury, the main goals are to protect the healing ligaments, reduce swelling and restore ankle range of motion. Protection and Compression

  1. Wear external support: lace-up ankle brace

  2. If painful, off-load body weight using crutches to walk as normally as possible

  3. Add movement: use pain as a guide

You may use crutches to reduce discomfort for the first 72 hours, however bearing weight without crutches while wearing external support has been shown to reduce swelling and improve range of motion. For external support, you may use a lace-up ankle brace to both support the ankle and provide compression to control swelling.  Icing and Elevation

  1. Apply an ice pack for 10-15 min 2-4 times/day while elevating the ankle

  2. Add movement: perform a “calf pump” by pointing and flexing the foot while it is elevated to use your calf muscles to help pump the swelling out of your ankle

Range of Motion Exercises Perform the following exercises to reduce swelling and stiffness in the ankle. Complete 2-3 times/day. Alphabets While sitting, hold your foot in the air and draw the alphabet with your toe. Toe Yoga (2 x 10 reps) Sitting or standing, alternate between lifting your big toe while holding the other 4 toes down and lifting the other 4 toes while holding your big toe down.


Wobble Board (20 reps forward/backward, 20 reps right/left) While sitting, place your foot on top of a cutting board with a tennis ball underneath. Without rolling the ball, rock the cutting board forward and back, then right and left. Keep your hands on your knee so that the movement is isolated to the foot only! 


Single Leg Balance (3 x 30 sec) Perform after 72 hours, or sooner if non-painful, and if you're walking without crutches. Stand on 1 foot for 30 seconds.


Perform the following exercises to keep important and surrounding muscles active while you are resting your ankle. Clamshells

Sidelying Hip Abduction

Dying Bugs

Feel free to reach out with any questions or to set up an appointment with a physical therapist.

>> Telehealth Details >> Request an Appointment

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