You Asked: ''How Can I Exercise with a Sprained Ankle?


By: , – Sara Hambidge, Physical Therapist
12/5/2012 12:00 AM   :  3 comments   :  17,953 Views

When recovering from a sprain, the first goal is to slowly regain a full range of movement. The first 24 hours are important for icing, rest and elevation to reduce the amount of inflammation. It's important to start rehabilitation exercises as soon as possible, depending on the severity of the sprain. 

If you can’t do weight bearing exercises, try this: Rotate your ankle and point your toes in different directions, spelling the alphabet with your toes to improve range of motion. You can also use a towel or resistance band to provide a little resistance at the ankle to help build up strength again. 

Once you feel comfortable with weight bearing exercises, try this one: Stand against a wall (with your side to the wall) with your sprained foot supported on one side by the wall. Put all weight on that one foot. Start with 5-10 seconds and work your way up to longer times. If you are able to walk on it, take out the hills and inclines if you can, until you don't feel any pain. Taking shorter walks--if you don't feel pain when walking-- is also a good idea.

Additionally, you could try a seated workout that will get your heart pumping without putting weight on your ankle at all. Be patient and listen to your body; you don't want to push yourself too hard and risk further injury.

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  • 3
    I'm healing a trimalleolar ankle fracture right now - a bit beyond the scope of a sprain, but in my early adulthood I had more than a small handful of ankle sprains. The best recovery I found was in ballet. Tendus, releves, and plies. And if you're not weight bearing, just pointing flexing your foot, taking care to stretch through the top of the ankle when you point. (It helps to keep your toes flexed until the last possible second - so that it if you were standing, you'd be standing on the balls of your feet - and then insteading of pointing your toes, think of stretching them.

    I do some of the same non-weight bearing exercises now on my broken ankle. The doctor is happy with my range of motion so far, but the bone just isn't ready to bear weight yet.

    In the meantime I've also been doing a lot of upper body and core workouts - taking care to focus on the upper body, because I usually slack on that anyway. (My cardio has turned into walking up and down the hallway on my crutches - those suckers get the heart pumping way sooner than you'd expect them too!)

    I can't wait until I'm allowed to roller skate again. - 5/13/2015   2:12:09 AM
  • 2
    I sprained my ankle over 10 years ago and I began exercising more this year. I started riding my bike in good weather and when winter came, I began doing home exercises, a 30 day challenge I found on pinterest. It worked really really well. I've lost 15 lbs since September. My ankle started acting up back in October though, making it hard to walk and exercise. So I found that wrapping it in an ace bandage helped a lot. It's now a lot better and I continue to exercise. Hopefully I reach my goal in the next few months :) - 12/22/2014   8:38:39 AM
    I suffered a sprained ankle and a broken bone in my left foot nearly 15 months ago. During the recovery period, I gained 9 kgs. When I felt that the ankle had healed, I took to climbing the staircase (7 storeys non-stop for 45 minutes) everyday. I did this for a month and then the ankle started hurting again.
    Effect on weight: Gained 1 kilo in 2 weeks and then lost that kilo too in the next two. :(

    To protect my ankle, I switched to swimming 4 times a week. Every session lasted 1 hour. My favorite stroke is the breaststroke.
    Effect on weight: I gained 2 kilos in the 1st fortnight and lost those 2 kilos in the next fortnight. :P

    My swimming plan lasted a month. I had to stop swimming due to some professional commitments so I started exercising at home with Jillian Michaels's DVDs namely, NMTZ, BFBM, 6W6P and 30 Day Shred. I alternate them. This turned out to be bad for my ankle and it started hurting. Among all her DVDs, I can say that Six Week Six Pack - Level 1 is the safest for my ankles. I avoid the jumping jacks and spot running. However, I continue to be a big fan of Jillian's. I will use one of her DVDs on days when the ankle is fine.

    On days when the ankle feels delicate or it hurts, I simply turn to Denise Austin's Pilates mat exercises' videos on YouTube so as to not miss a workout and to protect the ankle at the same time.

    From June, I plan to hit the pool again. Among all the exercises I've tried, only swimming makes me happy! So that's the best for me. - 5/22/2014   3:25:14 AM

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