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Toe, Foot, and Ankle Injuries

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Home Treatment

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Home treatment for a minor foot or ankle injury continued...

Range-of-motion exercises

Begin gentle range-of-motion exercises right after your injury while you have ice on your ankle. Perform a set of exercises by repeating them 10 to 30 times. Do each set 3 to 5 times a day.

Try the following simple range-of-motion exercises slideshow.gif:

  • Trace the alphabet with your toe, encouraging ankle movement in all directions.
  • Sit in a chair with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly move your knee from side to side while keeping your foot pressed flat.

Towel curls camera.gif. While sitting, place a hand towel on a smooth floor, such as wood or tile. While keeping your heel on the ground, curl your toes and grab the towel with your toes to scrunch the towel. Let go, and continue scrunching up the entire length of the towel. When you reach the end of the towel, reverse the action by grabbing the towel with your toes, scrunching it, and pushing it away from you. Repeat the exercise until you have pushed the entire length of the towel away from you.

Stretching exercises

About 48 to 72 hours after your injury, start exercises to stretch your Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles on the back of the lower leg to the bone at the base of the heel.

Towel stretch camera.gif. If you can't stand, sit with your knee straight and a towel looped around the ball of your foot. Gently and slowly pull back on the towel for 15 to 30 seconds until you feel your calf stretch. Repeat 2 to 4 times. In moderate to severe ankle sprains, at first it may be too painful to pull your toes far enough to feel a stretch in your calf. Use caution, and let pain be your guide. A little pain is normal, but you should not feel moderate to severe pain. Do this exercise 2 or 3 times each day for about a week. Then, make Achilles stretches part of your daily routine to maintain flexibility.

Calf stretch camera.gif. If you are able to stand, you can do this exercise by facing a wall with your hands at shoulder level on the wall. Place your injured foot behind the other with the toes pointing forward. Keep your heels down and your back leg straight. Slowly bend your front knee until you feel the calf stretch in the back leg. Repeat as above.

Strengthening exercises

As soon as you can bear weight without increased pain or swelling, begin muscle-strengthening exercises. These exercises should be held for 3 to 5 seconds. Do 15 to 20 repetitions once or twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the severity of your injury.

Start by sitting with your foot flat on the floor and pushing it outward against an immovable object such as a wall or heavy furniture. After you feel comfortable with this, try using rubber tubing looped around the outside of your feet for resistance.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 17, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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