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Ankle Sprains: Why is Rehab Important?

Did you recently sprain your ankle?

One of the most important things you have to do is REHAB. Rest and Ice does NOT count as rehab. In this blog we are going to explain why you NEED to do rehab.

Checkout our previous article to learn more about Lateral Ankle Sprains.

Once You Sprain Your Ankle Once, You May Sprain It Again!

     Recent studies have shown that players with a history of an ankle injury were 4.9 times more likely to sustain another ankle injury. Yes you read it right, you are that much at risk! The reason why you are at greater risk is that there are several impairments that occur after you sprain your ankle. One of the big impairments is decreased ankle range of motion, specifically dorsiflexion mobility

     If you have decreased ankle dorsiflexion range of motion in comparison to your other side, it will place your ankle at risk for an ankle sprain. IF the ankle does not have as much dorsiflexion mobility, it will be more plantar flexed during more activities, which places it at greater risk for a sprain, especially when landing or decelerating.

You May Injure Your Knee

     Furthermore, a common occurrence following an ankle sprain with athletes could lead to a knee injury. This occurs because the ankle now lacks mobility and proprioception, and the knee is the next joint up that needs to compensate for the compromised ankle. The ankle is inherently a mobile joint, while the knee is the stable joint. If the ankle is now stiff or limited in mobility, then the knee becomes the mobile joint. In other words, the knee is now moving more than it should, placing it at risk for injury. 

     Some of these potential injuries include knee sprains (ACL, MCL), overuse injuries (patellar tendinopathies/jumpers’ knee, patellofemoral pain, osgood schlatters’ disease) or cartilage issues (meniscus tears, chondromalacia).

You May Develop Weak Ankles

How many times have you heard athletes say that they have “weak ankles” and they seem to always roll them?

     This tends to be the trend for basketball athletes due to inadequate rehab and repeated ankle sprains. These repeated ankle sprains lead to athletes complaining of “weak” and “unstable” ankles and eventually lead to chronic ankle instability. The weak and unstable ankles are due to multiple things, such as decreased strength, proprioception and mobility.

     Studies have shown decreased peroneal strength, which is responsible for ankle eversion and controlling inversion. Furthermore, studies have also shown decreased glute strength, specifically glute med following an ankle sprain. The glute med and peroneal muscle group plays a huge role in stabilizing the ankle, which gets weaker following an ankle sprain; therefore, they have to be strengthened following an ankle sprain. 

     Another key factor following an ankle sprain is that you lose your proprioception. Proprioception is another word for your ability to control and be aware of your body in space. Once you sprain your ankle, your proprioception is impacted; therefore has to be trained again. If you don’t do rehab, it will feel unsteady when landing increasing your risk for an ankle sprain.


In summary, you NEED to be doing your rehab following an ankle sprain to decrease your risk for future ankle sprains and weak ankles. Rest and Ice, will not be enough; you have to be working on mobility, strength and stability. 

If you are dealing with an ankle sprain or just want to decrease your risk for ankle sprains check out our 12 week ankle sprain rehab program.

Need More Help?

Early Rehab Exercises:

Here is a video of exercises you can be doing early on in your ankle rehab.

$ 39
One Time Payment
  • 4-Week Program; 5 Training Days per Week
  • 100+ Detailed Step-By-Step Video Exercises
  • Bonus Week (Week 0) For Recent (<5 Days) Ankle Sprains
  • PDF Resources to Help Keep You On Track
  • Lifetime Access
$ 59
One Time Payment
  • 2 Main Phases: 1) Build the Foundation; 2) Sport Specific Training
  • 6-Week Total; 5-Training Days Per Week
  • Checkpoints & Objective Tests Throughout the Program and to Track Your Progress
  • Developed by Doctors of Physical Therapy and Backed by a Fellow-Trained Foot/Ankle Specialists
  • 150+ Exercises with Step-By-Step Video Guided Instructions


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O’Donnell, Michael.  Education and Intervention for Musculoskeletal Injuries: A biomechanics Approach. Understanding Injury, Health, and adaptations of the musculoskeletal system. 2012

Lloyd Jacob Evans, Angela Clough. Prevention of ankle sprains: A systematic Review 2011

Terada Masufmi, Pietrosime Brian and Gribble Phillip. Therapeutic Interventions for Increasing ankle dorsiflexion after ankle sprain: A systematic review. 2013

Hoch, Matthre C, Mckeon, Patrick “Peroneal Reaction Time after ankle Sprain: A systematic Review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2013

Vairo Giampietro et al “Systematic Review of Efficacy for Manual Lymphatic Drainage Technique in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: An evidence-based practice approach. The journal of manual and manipulative therapy.

Hubbard et al ” Ankle ligament healing after an acute ankle sprain: an evidence-based approach. Journal of athletic training 2008.

Sivakumar et al. Effectiveness of proprioception training and mulligan’s mobilization in subjects with lateral ankle sprains 

Huh et al “Two-Week Joint Mobilization Intervention improves self-reported function, range of motion, and dynamic balance in those with chronic ankle instability. Journal of Orthopedic Research 2012

Shakked Rachel, Karnovsky Sydney, and Drakos Mark. Operative treatment of lateral ligament instability. Foot and Ankle Sports Medicine 2017. 

Rogier M et al. “What is the clinical course of acute ankle sprains? A systematic literature review. The American Journal of medicine 2008.

The Basketball Doctors - Gabriel Ignacio Physical Therapist

Dr. Gabriel Ignacio PT, DPT, OCS, TPI

The Basketball Doctors - Marco Lopez Physical Therapist

Dr. Marco Lopez PT, DPT, CSCS

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