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Brain-Based Fall Prevention & Preparation.


Episode 127: Ankle Pain Relief Exercises

Video Highlights

- "Walking it off" isn't a good rehab plan.
- Ankles often need more reps.
- Specific protocol recommendation for maximum results.

Hi guys. Today, we’re going to look at two simple exercises that you can do for ankle pain. The nice thing is, you can do them while seated at your desk.

The ankle is one of the areas of the body that we spend a lot of time working on. Most people that we work with have had either one or multiple ankle sprains. One of the issues that we run into with ankle injuries, is that most people really don’t rehabilitate them very well. They put the boot on. They are on crutches for a week, or whatever. Then eventually, they just try and walk it off.

The problem with that is that there’s a lot of very intricate structure within the foot and ankle, and if something’s not moving well or something’s impinged, a lot of problems can result. We do a lot of people that have ankle pain, and even if they don’t have pain, very often their ankle limits their mobility. It limits their ability to squat, or lunge, or do other stuff, or even run. I want to show you just a couple of simple ideas that you can do while seated to help take care of your own ankle.

I am sitting in a comfortable chair. You don’t have to take your socks off for this. I took mine off so that you can see what we’re doing, but you do want to get your shoe off. The very first thing that we want to do, as usual, we want to wake up the skin. You need to reach down and basically think about your ankle as a three dimensional object. We’re just going to start off with some really light sensory stimulation of the skin.

For more information on the importance of sensory stimulation, click here.

You want to make sure that you’re working all the way around the entire ankle joint. Make sure that you get a little bit of stem around the achilles, where it comes down and attaches to your heel. The outside ankle bones, both above and below them. Then also the front of the foot. I like to do it with two hands because it saves me some time. Fifteen to twenty seconds of this should feel pretty good. After you’ve given a little bit of a warm up, what we want to go to now is a very simple mobility drill in concept.

The idea is that it should be simple.

For a lot of people, it’s actually more challenging than you would think, but we’re just going to make an ankle circle. Now the challenge with doing a good ankle circle is I want you to think about your ankle, not your toes. Imagine that your ankle has been replaced by a nice smooth cue ball, from a pool table. It should be smooth and shiny, which means it should be able to make a really nice, clean circle.

We’re going to start with the toes pointed down. You want to keep your toes as relaxed as possible, so that you can again focus on the ankle. You’re just going to start off making very small, controlled circles. If you need help, you can hold onto the back of your leg to give your leg some support so you can really just focus on the ankle motion.

Now a lot of people, as they start to increase the size of the circle, you’ll start to see this a lot of shaking. The whole idea is to move as smoothly and comfortably as possible while progressively increasing your range of motion. The ankle, because it deals with so much stress and so much force often needs a lot of repetition.

I recommend that you do somewhere between twenty and thirty repetitions, as long as you can do them without getting a lot of vibrating and shaking. If there’s a lot of vibrating and shaking, you can just decrease the range of motion a little bit. Keep working on the control aspect of it. If there’s pain, obviously, I don’t want you to go into pain. I want you to reduce the range of motion. Just bump up against the edge of it, making sure that you keep it comfortable.

The second exercise we want to do is a little nerve stretch for one of the nerves that goes into the ankle. It’s called the sural nerve. This one’s interesting because it doesn’t really do a lot to control the muscles, but it gives a lot of sensory input from the ankle to the brain. One of the issues that we run into post-injury is our brain isn’t quite sure where the ankle is, so we get a little bit of instability.

The exercise is pretty simple. Once again, you’re seated. Now I want you to start off nice and tall.

You’re going to get your foot out and leg out in front of you as if you’re going to do a hamstring stretch. Your knee is going to be locked back, not hard, but kind of a soft lock here. Our two basic foot positions, we want to pull our toes up toward the knee, and then we want to turn our foot in. Again, we’re going to bring our toes up to the knee, turn the foot in at the ankle.

Once you have this position with your spine, you’re going to learn forward until you start to feel a stretch.

Very often, you’ll actually feel a sensation on the outside part of your ankle going into your foot. You want to keep that sensation about a three out of ten intensity level. Don’t overstretch this. Again, we’re going to pull up, pull in. Now, we’re going to get that little bit of a stretch. Once you have that stretch and you can feel it going into the ankle, you’re going to bend your knee, take a little bit of the tension off. Straighten your knee. Put the tension back on.

Now I just want you to do that four or five times until it starts to feel a little bit more free. If it feels more free, you can bring your trunk forward more. You can pull your toes up a little bit more. You can turn your foot in a little bit more. Just repeat that. We like to have people do maybe four or five little knee pumps, and then readjust their position, and then come out of it.

Now what I recommend, like I said, is you’re going to do quite a few ankle circles. Then I would like you to do a little bit of a nerve stretch. Then go back and finish up with a few more ankle circles. Very often what you’ll figure out, is after you do the nerve stretch, your ankle is actually in a little bit better shape. You can control it a little bit more, and some of the shaking will have gone away.

That’s it.

Your basics are ankle circles, thinking about making sure you’ve got a cue ball in there. It’s nice and smooth. Do twenty different repetitions in each direction. Then do a little bit of this nerve stretch. Then repeat and finish up with a few ankle circles. If you can do that a couple of times a day, your ankle is going to feel amazing.

Give it a shot. If you have any questions let us know.

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