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I Sprained My Ankle And I Still Can’t Run

Sprained ankles are one of the most common physical injuries. While severity ranges, most of these injuries are treated by traditional methods of icing and rest. Physical therapy is a viable option for treating a sprained ankle and can help prevent re-injury.


Sprained ankles can be caused by rolling the ankle, but also can be ligament or muscle damage. Sprained ankles aren’t always minor injuries. Untreated sprained ankles can lead to chronic injuries or long lasting pain.
Symptoms of a sprained ankle include:
  • Swelling of the area
  • Bruising of the area
  • Injured area being tender to the touch
  • Difficulty standing
The traditional Rest Ice Compression Elevation (RICE) method me be effective for minor sprains, but more serious injuries can require physical therapy or in some cases surgery to prevent permanent damage.
Moriarty Physical Therapy uses rehabilitation that strengthens the ankle, not just alleviates the pain.
Once the swelling is down and you can stand on your ankle again—consult your physical therapist to develop a series of exercises to gradually bring back your ankles range-of-motion.  As your ankle heals physical therapy will begin with simple pointing and flexing of the foot. Gradually the foot and ankle will be slowly rotated in an elevated position.
In the early weeks, focus on physical activities that will not aggravate your ankle such as swimming or upper-body strength training. Once you have established full range of motion and your foot can bear with out pain, strengthening exercises start with isometrics. Using the foot’s resistance in a fixed range of motion is an excellent Isotonic exercise.
Isometric Ankle Strengthening
Point your foot in a downward and inward position against a fixed object such as a wall and hold for 10 seconds. Then reverse it by pointing your foot in an upward and outward position and holding. Follow with an downward and outward position then an upward and inward position. Repeat all exercises 10 times.
Use a resistance band around your forefoot, attach the other end of the loop on something stable or hold it in your hand and gently push your foot through all four ranges of motion, down, up, internally and externally.
Transitioning Back to Running
Once your range of motion and strength in your ankle have returned, add in non-impact activities like cycling. Weight-bearing exercises using elliptical trainer and walking on a predictable surface is an effective way to transition back.
Test, Test, Test 
Don’t just start running again, carefully start adding short runs into your cross-training workouts. As the strength comes back, add more time to the run until your ankle regains strength.
The key is to give yourself plenty of time to regain range of motion and strength in the ankle before you try to run, and to keep the running time short at first.
Rehabilitation can’t start until you visit your doctor. If you are experiencing ankle pain, physical therapy may be a viable option. Visit our website or call us at 845.454.4137.
Contact a doctor or physical therapist before attempting treatment or returning to activity after suffering an injury.


Gross, M. T. (September 2016). Effects of Recurrent Lateral Ankle Sprains on Active and Passive Judgments of Joint Position. Physical Therapy.

Hadfield, J. (August 11, 2016). How to Return to Running After a Sprained Ankle. Runner’s World.

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Come visit one of our physical therapy clinics in New York or North Carolina and one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy will do a 15-minute consultation to see if physical therapy is right for you. In the consultation, we’ll help determine the source of pain and movement restrictions to see if you would benefit from physical therapy or might need the assistance of another healthcare professional. If so, we’ll make a referral and help speed up achieving your health goal.

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