The best exercises for strengthening an unstable ankle are one-leg balance exercises Studies over the past ten years have demonstrated that these one-leg balance exercises are a critical part of rehabilitation after an ankle sprain or following a diagnosis of an unstable ankle. These same exercises also are the most effective exercises to strengthen the arch of the foot.
Here is how to do the exercises:
- Spend 5 – 10 minutes per day doing these balance exercises.
- Keep track each day of how long you can maintain the one leg stance.
- Do not wear an ankle brace when doing these exercises. You may wear shoes or go barefoot, but keep it consistent so if you are wearing shoes, do so every time you do the exercises.
- With your eyes open, stand on one foot on the ground. Balance on one foot for as long as you can up to 30 seconds.
- When you can stand on one foot for 30 seconds or more, you need to make the exercise more difficult by making the surface you are balancing on less stable. We recommend using a couch throw pillow.
- When you can stand on one throw pillow for 30 seconds then use two pillows.
- When you can balance on two pillows for 30 seconds, start doing your one leg balance exercises on a wobble board. You can purchase a wobble board here.
- Work up to standing on the wobble board for about 15 seconds.
We recommend the use of an ankle brace when rehabilitating from an ankle sprain or ankle instability. You should wear the brace at all times when awake until you can balance on two throw pillows for 30 seconds. For most patients this takes about 30 days, although it can take substantially longer for some. If you need an ankle brace, we recommend the Ossur Exoform Ankle Brace. You should then continue to wear the ankle brace for athletic activities until you can balance on one foot on a wobble board for 15 seconds.
Return to Clinic
We want to see our ankle sprain patients back about 30 days after they start balance therapy.
- The effects of plyometric versus dynamic stabilization and balance training on lower extremity biomechanics. Myer GD, Am J Sports Med. 2006
- Ankle sprains: treating to prevent the long-term consequences.Wikstrom EA. JAAPA. 2012
- Ankle sprains: from diagnosis to management. the physiatric view. Acta Med Port. 2008
- Syndesmotic ankle sprains in athletes. Williams GN Am J Sports Med. 2007
Ankle sprains that are not treated correctly can lead to long-term problems. If you have sprained your ankle or are experiencing ankle symptoms call today for an evaluation in our convenient Seattle office.