Most people just use rest and ice and leave it at that for a few weeks or months until they feel better. But, rest and ice are woefully inadequate in terms of building strength and improving range of motion in the ankle joint. How can rest and ice strengthen your ankle? How can it improve range of motion? And those two things are absolutely essential to getting your ankle back to 100% full health.
Think about it… you have a sprained ankle. It is bruised, swollen, stiff and sore. If you just leave it alone, all those things will get better. Ice will help with the swelling for a little while. Rest will help the joint eventually heal. But, best case scenario, you have a healed ankle joint that is very weak and stiff. Now, if you play sports, once you get back out there, it will take a much smaller force to re-sprain that ankle. And every time you sprain it again, it only gets weaker and weaker.
The only answer is to strengthen the ankle and improve range of motion, so your ankle can withstand the forces that might injure it in sports and life. When we talk about ankle rehab, we mean more than just a few stretches and exercises… We are talking about techniques that also remove scar tissue and repair the neuromuscular damage from the injury. That includes the central nervous system’s ability to communicate with the ankle and make it move without any issues.
So, yes there are a wide variety of stretches and ankle exercises that are great. But, also you need to really get into that area and help healthy blood flow heal the joint. When a good rehab program is implemented, either at home or with a specialist, great results usually follow. people experience faster recovery times and a much high quality of healing. And, of course, their risk of another injury diminishes greatly.
Now, this is where I differ with most people. Most people say you should only begin rehab once you are healed. In my experience with thousands of people, I have found this to be totally inaccurate. The longer you wait to begin your rehab program, the more damage you will find in the ankle joint once you do finally begin.
In my opinion, you should begin your rehab program right away. Be gentle and make sure you don’t do anything that causes pain. But, you need to be moving your ankle and working it immediately afterward. Now, this doesn’t mean you are not also resting it. You are actually resting it the majority of the time, but you are still actively working the ankle to start up the strength building process. You will be surprised at how well and quickly the ankle will respond.