ankle sprain

I’m going to talk about balancing for ankle sprains in just a moment but first I want to announce that Effective Stretching: The Ultimate Guide is ready to ship! Its on sale from $45 to $29 just until December 31st – and you get free shipping as my holiday gift to you! (sorry… only for domestic orders) Check it out on the website – and order Effective Stretching which comes with a free pinkie ball and 2 smaller balls now!

I’m enjoying your dance smart messages so very much, and share them with the other dance teacher in my school. Recently a student of mine injured her ankle, and had it diagnosed as a bad sprain. She has now returned to dance class, but is, of course, finding it weak. Having not had any physical therapy, she has asked me for recommended exercises to help strengthen it.
Any suggestions? Thanks very much.

Good question Shelley. It distresses me some that your student didn’t receive any physical therapy. I have seen many injuries that have been traced back to sprains that weren’t fully rehabbed. I’m assuming that your student can walk, stand, and slowly relevé without pain in her ankle. One of the first focuses would be to retrain the nervous system where center is at the ankle joint. This is done through balancing exercises. This one part is essential in the rehab process because the body immediately compensates after an injury such as a sprained ankle. If we don’t take the time to retrain the musculature around the joint through balancing, they will continue to act in the compensatory pattern.

Start by standing on one foot making sure you are not sinking into the hip. First begin in parallel, and then you can move into doing these turnout exercises in a slightly turned out position. Toss a ball from one hand to the other, balancing on the one leg, for one minute initially and working up to balancing and tossing the ball for three minutes. (When I was training gymnasts I would make them do this on the balance beam, so our dancers have it easy!)

When you get pretty good at balancing for three minutes in this way, challenge your nervous system by standing on a moveable surface such as a sofa cushion, your bed, or the middle of a small mini tramp.

Whatever feels tired first means one of two things, that muscle group is weak or tight, or both weak and tight. Just by virtue of doing the balancing exercises you will be strengthening and asking all the muscles to work to keep you in balance. If you get tired around the outside of the hips you should stretch that area after doing the balance exercises.

To work at strengthening the muscles around the joint your student may want to work with a wide strip of theraband and do pointing and flexing with her foot inside the theraband. She would also want to resist the theraband moving her foot into abduction which is a flagged foot, opposite of sickling her foot. To do that she would hold the theraband off to the left if she was working with her right foot and move her right foot away from the midline of the body.

You can do straight abduction, and also work the foot in a half circle shape going from flexion out to the side and into a Pointe, and then reversing the motion. [Whew, it is challenging to describe movement in words sometimes.] It is the peroneal muscles that are strained when you sprain your ankle for those of you who want to look it up in an anatomy book. She should move cautiously back into jumps and leaps and pointe work until she feels confident that her ankle is strong enough. Post sprain is a vulnerable time when it would be very easy for her to re-sprain the joint.

Happy December!


“Education is the key to injury prevention”