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Physical Therapy for the Ankle

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

The ankle joint - one of the smallest parts of the body and yet one of the major weight-bearing structures in the body. As a result, the ankle is one the most injured especially when jumping and landing incorrectly. Statistics show that an estimated 2 million people usually have a check-up due to ankle sprains, strains, and fractures.

In connection with that, it has been reported that after an ankle, about 30-70% of patients experience ankle instability. And this is where Physical Therapy is recommended by physicians because it’s important to strengthen and stretch the ankle after an injury to help decrease the risk.

A physical therapist will still choose the best ankle exercises based on your evaluation and assessment. Your ankle rehabilitation is done slowly and carefully. We always remind patients that whenever you’re starting something new it’s always best to have a consultation and to be guided by a legit physical therapist.

When talking about the ankle, the common injuries in line with the foot and ankle would be an Achilles rupture, ankle tendonitis, foot fractures, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, and sprains of ankle ligaments.

The Importance of training and strengthening

With any activity or exercise for that matter, the more we train our body, the better it’ll function. This is especially true for maintaining ankle stability. Different studies and also medical experts say that in improving ankle stability, the overall result depends on the overall ligament and muscle function as well as the brain function- and it’s called proprioception (the mind’s awareness of the body’s given location in space at any particular time). Here are some of those exercises that you can try with the assistance of your Physical Therapists, but always remember it depends upon your body’s condition.

Here are some of the exercises for the ankle that will improve ankle dorsiflexion:

  1. Ankle Circles

We always remind about starting off with stretching and ankle circles is a great way to start. Not only does it help in improving your ankle mobility but helps in the range of motion as well. What’s great about this is you can do it sitting or lying down.


  • Grab a rolled towel or a foam roller and put it under your ankle.

  • Make sure you’re comfortable in your position and not in any form of tension, then turn your ankle slowly in circles- clockwise. Do this for 10 counts and another 10 counts doing it counterclockwise. Make sure your move just your foot and ankle and not the whole leg.

  • A good technique is to try to trace out the alphabet with your big toe, this allows you to test and vary the stretch of your ankle.

  1. Single leg balance

Experts actually say that standing on one leg not only helps rehabilitate the ankle, it also reduces knee and hip pain. It’s recommended that you do this daily and increase the number of seconds that you can remain steady on each leg. Others who can maintain their balance for 60 seconds also try to put variations in their routine such as balancing with their eyes closed. But make sure you’re therapist approves for safety purposes.


  • Stand comfortably on a flat surface with your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure you have a chair or near a wall for support, just in case.

  • Hold your arms out to your sides and stand on one foot

  1. Ankle flexion (dorsiflexion)

You’ll be needing a stretch band on this one since you’ll be flexing your ankle by pulling your toes toward you.


  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.

  • Secure the band around a chair leg or a table leg, and then wrap it around one foot.

  • Slowly point your toes up toward you and then return to the starting position.

  • Do 3 sets of 10 flexes on each foot. But if you feel any pain or discomfort, slowly return to a neutral position and stop this exercise altogether.

These are just the easy ones but if you want to more about improving your ankle mobility, it’s best if you contact us at Arise Physical Therapy and Wellness. We have more things to offer that can surely make you better.

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