Rapids Health Tips: Ankle Injuries Prevention and Rehabilitation

Rapids Health Tips (By the Colorado Physical Therapy Institute)

This issue's topic: Ankle Injuries Prevention and Rehabilitation

Foot and ankle injuries are very common and are probably the most commonly over looked orthopaedic injury. Most people have the attitude that it is "just" a foot or ankle injury. Often a bad "twisted" ankle will also have an associated broken bone.

The foot and ankle are extremely important in how the rest of the body performs. The foot and ankle are the first to contact the ground and act as the foundation for the rest of the body. If the foundation is not stable and strong it can lead to compensations in the knee hip or back. These compensations often lead to overloading other joints muscles tendons and/or ligaments; increasing the risk of injuries to other areas. Compensation patterns also result in less than optimal sports performance.

Top performances and accelerated injury recovery are possible when the neuromuscularskeletal (nerves-muscles-bones) system is working together efficiently. Treating injuries quickly minimizes recovery time and keeps you in the game.


Stretching- keep the calf muscles and hamstring (back of the leg) flexible. Many college and professional teams use the Step Stretch® tool because it is so efficient and easy to use. Stretching should be performed pain free several times a day. Do each stretch 3-5 times and hold them at least 30 seconds. Correct position is essential.

Balance strength and endurance- include exercise that strengthens the muscles that lift the toes up and pull the ankle outward. Performing single leg balance activities will improve strength endurance and coordination to your leg muscles. When you are ready make these exercises more challenging by balancing on foam (or a Dyna Disc®) reaching or swinging your leg or closing your eyes while balancing on one leg. Your therapist can develop home balance exercise program for you. CPTI utilizes Balance Shuttle Power Plate and the Biodex Computerized Balance System for static and dynamic balance testing and training. Colorado Physical Therapy Inst. also offers free balance screening for the community. The balance screening technology allows us to predict who may be at risk for injury from falling down.

Tape & Braces- can be very helpful to provide support to a minor injury or to an ankle that has had several sprains over the years. Supportive braces are often more practical because they are easy to use cost effective and the kids can put them on themselves. Tape works best when applied by experienced Certified Athletic Trainer.

Custom orthotic shoe inserts are helpful in some cases to reduce ankle and foot problems. CPTI uses the latest in digital scanning technology to make affordable quality orthotics.


  • Report injuries quickly so an appropriate treatment plan that safely returns you to activity can be developed. Studies indicate early treatment saves time and money.
  • Many ankle injuries will need an X-ray to rule out broken bones.
  • RICE: Rest Ice (10-15 minutes) Compression (ace wrap) and Elevation is a good way to treat a new injury. You may have to use crutches to allow the foot and ankle time to recover. Avoid activities that cause pain or increase swelling.
  • You may be able to keep other areas of your body fit (as long as it doesn’t hurt your foot or ankle) by riding a bike jogging in the pool and doing exercises for trunk control so the rest of the body doesn’t decondition while you are waiting for the foot and ankle to recover.
  • Rehabilitation exercises should be challenging and specific to your activities or sport.

    Hope this helps you stay in the game!

Article written by Roger C. Rettig MSPT ATC MNSMT CCM CIE and Director of the Colorado Physical Therapy Institute in Broomfield since 1987. CPTI Specializes in Orthopaedic & Sports Rehabilitation and is the Official Physical Therapy Clinic of the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer Team. If you have questions please contact CPTI at 303.460.9129 or Views opinions and medical reccomendations expressed in this column are the author's and not necessarily those of the Colorado Rapids or