How do I strengthen my ankle after a sprain?

Following an ankle sprain, you should start strengthening exercises once you can bear weight comfortably and your range of motion is near full. There are several types of strengthening exercises. It is easiest to begin with isometric exercises that you do by pushing against a fixed object with your ankle.

Once you have mastered isometric exercises, you can progress to isotonic exercises. In isotonic exercises, you use your ankle's range of motion against some form of resistance. The photos below show isotonic exercises performed with a resistance band, which you can get from your local physical therapist or a sporting goods store.

Isometric Exercises

Exercise #1

  1. Place your ankle in the "down and in" position against a fixed object such as a couch.

  2. Hold this position for a count of 10.

  3. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle Strengthening Exercise

Exercise #2

  1. Place your ankle in the "up and out" position against the same object.

  2. Hold this position for a count of 10.

  3. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle strengthening exercise

Isotonic Exercises

Exercise #1

  1. Using a resistance band around your forefoot, hold the ends of the band with your hand and gently push your ankle down as far as you can and then back to the starting position.

  2. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle Strengthening Exercise

Exercise #2

  1. Tie the resistance bands around a fixed object and wrap the ends around your forefoot.

  2. Start with your foot pointing down and pull your ankle up as far as you can.

  3. Return to the starting position and cycle your ankle 10 times.

Ankle Strengthening Exercise

Exercise #3

  1. Tie the bands around an object to the outer side of your ankle.

  2. Start with the foot relaxed and then move your ankle down and in.

  3. Return to the relaxed position and repeat 10 times.

Ankle strengthening exercise

Exercise #4

  1. Tie the ends of the bands around an object to the inside of your ankle and hold your foot relaxed.

  2. Bring your foot up and out and then back to the resting position.

  3. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle strengthening exercise

Once you have regained the motion and strength in your ankle, you are ready for activities such as gentle jogging and biking. After you feel your ankle strength is approximately 80% of your other side, then you can begin cutting or twisting sports. 

Exercises for Balance, Coordination, and Agility

Exercise #1

  1. Stand with your affected leg on a pillow.

  2. Hold this position for a count of 10.

  3. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle strengthening exercise

Exercise #2

  1. Stand on your affected leg with the resistance band applied to your unaffected leg.

  2. Bring your unaffected leg backward and then back to the starting position.

  3. Repeat 10 times.

  4. Bring your unaffected leg forward and then back to the starting position.

  5. Repeat 10 times.

Ankle strengthening exercise
Ankle strengthening exercise

Start these exercises slowly and progress to a faster speed for a more difficult workout. For a more advanced exercise, swing your unaffected leg behind you and then back.

Ankle strengthening exercise

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images, and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find a Surgeon" search to locate a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon in your area.