What to do for a Sore Ankle

The ankle joint is three bones intertwined by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The tibia is a large bone located on the inside of the shin. The fibula is a thinner bone on the outside of the shin. The ends of the tibia and fibula are joined together by a strong ligament to form a socket called the ankle mortis. The talus is the highest placed bone of the foot. It has a dome which fits inside the ankle socket.

Ankle pains is generally twofold, acute and chronic.

Acute ankle pain is traumatic injury regularly from a sprained ankle. There is damage to the ligaments and tissue surrounding the ankle joint. Chronic ankle pain is gradual aggravation experienced either on the inside of the ankle (medial ankle pain) or on the outside (lateral ankle pain). Medial ankle pain is caused by stress on the tendons and nerves around the ankle region. This sharp pain diverges into the arch of the foot. Repetitive overpronation (roll in) and supination (rolling out) of the foot causes this condition is also attributable.

What Causes Sore Ankles?

Tissues surrounding the ankles swell and intense pain is felt when touched. Yet, pain and swelling are not always simultaneous with minor injuries. The soreness is usually from a sprained ankle, arthritis, gout, and tendonitis. Other factors like improper footwear, unhealthy circulation, nerve conditions, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, are applicable but are exclusive variants.

How to Recover from a Sore Ankle

Instantly after the injury administer the conventional R.I.C.E (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) method, particularly the ice and compression (with an elastic bandage) to reduce swelling and abate the bruising from traumatic blood surge. Avert heavy weight from the ankle injury for at least two days and continue R.I.C.E at least three days. Crutches, a  cane, or a walker are practical tools.

Only start range-of-motion exercises (ROM) after you have itemized the gravity of soreness and do not feel pain. Afterward customize any of the conventional ROM, balance, and strengthening exercises


  • Alphabet ankle rotation- Trace the alphabet with your toe to improve circular agility. Do it one to three times
  • Lateral ROM- sit in a chair with your foot completely flat. Slowly move your knee side to side and keep your foot flat. Do it, two to three minutes


  • Towel stretch- sit with your leg straight in front of you. Place a rolled towel under the ball of your foot, hold the towel at both ends. Gently pull the towel toward you while keeping your knee straight then hold 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat two to four times. Moderate to severe ankle sprains are too intense to pull your toes far to feel a stretch in your calf, so this exercise may not correspond
  • Calf stretch- face a wall with your hands on the wall about eye level. Place the injured foot about a step behind your other leg. Keep your back heel on the floor, bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds then repeat two to four times. Do this with the back knee bent a little, but with the back heel on the floor. This is an overall stretch of the calf muscles


Consult with a physician about the timing of strengthening exercises

  • Ankle eversion exercise- sit with your foot flat on the floor and push it outward against an immovable heavy object (furniture, wall). Hold six seconds, then relax. If you feel comfortable try using rubber tubing looped around the outside of your feet for resistance. Push your foot out to the side against the tubing, then count to 10 as you slowly return the foot back to the middle
  • ŸIsometric opposition exercises- sit and place your feet together flat on the floor. Press your injured foot inward against your other foot. Hold for six seconds, then relax. Next, place the heel of your other foot on top of the injured one and push down with the top heel trying to push up with your injured foot. Hold six seconds, then relax

BALANCE AND CONTROL (for ankle sprains)

  • Step One- stand only on the injured foot while holding your arms laterally with your eyes open. If unsteady, stand in a doorway to place your hands on the door frame for structure. Balance as long as you can, at least 60 seconds. When you can do it 60 seconds, try step two
  • ŸStep Two- stand only on the injured and hold your arms across your chest with your eyes open. When you can do it 60 seconds, try step three
  • ŸStep Three- stand only on the injured foot, hold your arms laterally and close your eyes. If unsteady, stand in a doorway to place put hands on the door frame for structure. When you can do it 60 seconds, try step four
  • Step Four- stand only on the injured foot, hold your arms across your chest with eyes closed. Balance as long as you can, at least 60 seconds

Stretching exercises should be daily specially before and after physical activities to prevent re-injury. Even after rehabilitation continue strengthening and balancing several times a week for durability.

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