The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Ankle Sprains
If you’ve recently suffered a sprain to your ankle, physical therapy can help you recover and prevent further injury. Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to restore muscle strength, flexibility, and balance as well as decrease the risk of developing long-term problems. This article will cover everything you need to know about how physical therapy helps an ankle sprain so that you can make an informed decision about your treatment plan.
What to Expect at Physical Therapy
Visiting a physical therapist for the first time can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. A physical therapist will assess your current condition and create a custom treatment plan tailored specifically to you in order to help you reach optimal recovery. During the assessment, your physical therapist will ask about the degree of pain you’re experiencing and how it affects your day-to-day life. They may also check your range of motion by having you move or extend your ankle in specific ways. After the assessment is complete, your physical therapist will explain their treatment plan and answer any questions that you may have.
The main goals of physical therapy for an ankle sprain are to reduce pain, improve mobility and flexibility, restore strength and balance, and prevent re-injury. Some of the treatments you can expect include therapeutic exercise, manual therapy (massage), ice/heat application, electrical stimulation, ultrasound treatment, and muscle energy techniques. Each type of treatment is designed to help your ankle sprain heal and reduce the risk of further injury.
What Types of Exercises Might You Do?
Your physical therapist will design a custom exercise program that is tailored to your specific needs based on the assessment results. They may choose interventions such as:
Ankle range of motion exercises – to improve ankle mobility and flexibility.
Balance training – to increase stability, coordination, and balance.
Strengthening exercises – to restore strength in the muscles and ligaments of your ankle and foot.
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) – to help restore the neuromuscular control of your ankle.
Plyometric exercises – to improve power, agility, and speed for returning to normal activities.
In addition to these types of exercises, your physical therapist may also give you home exercises that you can do on your own time in order to supplement the sessions. They may also recommend specific self-care techniques or lifestyle modifications that will help with your recovery.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
The length of time it takes to recover from an ankle sprain can vary depending on the severity and type of sprain. Generally speaking, most people should expect to complete their physical therapy program within 6-8 weeks. However, this timeline may be longer if the injury is more severe. Your physical therapist will be able to give you a better estimate of the timeline based on your individual needs and progress.
How Does Physical Therapy Prevent Reinjury?
Physical therapy can help reduce the risk of reinjury by helping you address any underlying issues that may have caused or contributed to the initial ankle sprain. The exercises and treatments prescribed by your physical therapist will help strengthen the muscles and ligaments around your ankle, which can provide additional stability to prevent future injuries. Additionally, by teaching you specific movement patterns, balance exercises, and strengthening exercises, your physical therapist can help you learn how to protect yourself from reinjury in the future.
Physical therapy is an effective treatment option for ankle sprains. It can help reduce pain and swelling, improve range of motion and strength, prevent reinjury, and get you back to your normal activities as quickly and safely as possible. Working with a physical therapist is the best way to ensure that you receive an individualized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs.