Overcoming Sprains and Ankle Weakness

ankle
Eye spy with my little eye something that’s not quite right.

My soccer season came to an abrupt halt just before Canada Day. We were playing a double header and in the first game I went in for a steal, rolled my ankle, shook it off and played the entire second game. Nothing looked out of the ordinary when I took off my cleats, shin pads and socks that night, but when I woke up, I knew something wasn’t right. My husband got out of bed before me and only half awake I stuck my foot in his face and asked him if it was bruised. He said “no, but it doesn’t look quite right” …please see the photo to the right.

I spent Canada Day on my butt with an ice pack barely able to walk. The next day was a little bit better, I could put weight on my foot, but I still wasn’t in very good shape. I had a massage scheduled later that day with Alley at Phoenix Sports Medicine Experts so I asked her to take a look at it and she told me that if it was still swollen after the weekend, to call and make an appointment with the clinic’s physiotherapist Stan. I called Stan first thing Monday and was in later that day. He diagnosed me with a high ankle sprain and told me that a few bones in my foot weren’t quite in the correct spot. My talus in particular.

weights
Working on some upper body exercises with my taped up talus and my coach Fozzy!

I had to take several weeks off from sports, wear an ankle brace, and spend several hours a week with Stan and the team at the clinic massaging out muscles, using ultra sound machines, popping bones back into place and performing several strength building exercises.

It’s been almost two months since I sprained my ankle, and while I’m back to my activities (wearing my brace of course!) I’m still suffering from some discomfort and still visiting Stan on a weekly basis – I did a lot more damage than I had originally thought.

During my treatment I’ve learned about weaknesses in my body that made me more susceptible to my sprain and I’m working on overcoming them. In particular, I need to stretch out my calf muscles, work on my balance and strengthen my calf and feet muscles.

braces
My husband also recently sprained his ankle playing soccer this summer. Check out how cute we are in our matching braces 😉

To keep my legs loose, I have started rolling out my muscles more often with my foam roller and implemented a stretch night as part of my weekly workouts. I also have Alley work on them every time I go for my massages.

Here are a few of the exercises I’m doing at home and at the clinic to work on my balance and strength in my lower legs and feet:

BALANCE

Bosu Balance

When my ankle was stable enough, I started standing on top of a Bosu with one leg for as long as I could until I fell off. That was one round. I completed this ten times. When I started to get a little better at it, I closed my eyes to cut off their visual cues to my brain.

I also use the Bosu for lunges. I step onto the top of the Bosu in a lunge and push off hard. I do three sets of 10 to the front, and then three sets of 10 side lunges, focusing on keeping my toes and ankle parallel to each other.

Yoga

I’ve been participating in Moksha Yoga’s free outdoor yoga sessions at lunch time on Wednesdays at City Hall in Hamilton, Ontario. Yoga helps improve balance, strength and concentration while reducing stress and lengthening muscles. Click here for a few of my new favourite yoga poses to help work on balance.

LOWER LEG, ANKLE, AND FOOT STRENGTHENING EXERCISES

Calf Raises

Standing on the edge of the stepper at the clinic, or on the bottom stair in my basement, I extend my foot from flexed to pointed while standing on one foot – it’s harder than it sounds when you’re recovering from an ankle sprain! I’m still struggling with this one. I’m working towards doing 30 in a row, but I’m only at about 7-10 at the moment.

Resistance Bands

With a resistance band tied to the base of something stable, I tie a loop in one end, put my foot in the loop and sit perpendicular to the object. With my toes pointed I pull my toes in a lateral motion towards the outside of my ankles. I do this ten time for three sets.

Marble Pick Up or Towel Srunch

Drop several marbles or small objects on the ground and pick up each one! If you don’t have marbles, try using a towel. Lay a small towel (a shirt will also work) under your foot. Using only your toes, grab and scrunch the towel up into a ball.

Do you have any additional exercises I can add to my repertoire to build indestructible ankles?

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