A runner’s sprained ankle physical therapy

I was diagnosed with a sprained anterior talofibular tendon on May 19th after twisting my ankle a few miles into our Grand Canyon rim-to-rim run. About a week after the sprain, I honestly wished I would’ve just broken my damn ankle. I’ve broken both of my ankles before and between us, I think this sprain is more of a pain in the ass than a fracture. I think “sprain” is too weak of a word. The medical community should call it what it is: Incurable Shitty Ankle.

A week after the sprain, my ankle was still the size of a softball and there was no way in hell I was going to try to run on it. The physical therapist, also a runner, who saw me in Flagstaff, told me I’d be looking at at least a month. And then he gave me my printout of stretches and strength-training exercises.

Now I’d been through physical therapy in the past with a hip injury. Based on the extensive research I’ve done by interviewing other casual and amateur athletes, 99.3% of them don’t follow through with their prescribed physical therapy. I am part of that 99.3% and didn’t continue with my hip exercises.

This time I decided I would actually do my PT because there’s absolutely no way I can run through this injury. I’ve only been doing these exercises for 11 days, and I have no idea how I’m going to fare when I return to running, but figured I’d memorialize the rehabilitation here with the hope that I might help you, fellow injured runner, overcome your Incurable Shitty Ankle. Note that a lot of these stretches and exercises are are supportive in nature, and focused in the hips and glutes.

Standing Hip Abduction (each leg 10 x 3)

Sidelying hip abduction (each leg 10 x 3)

Clamshells (each leg 10 x 3)

Weighted hip arches (10 x 3)

Supine active straight leg raise (each leg 10 x 3)

Ankle dorsiflexion and plantarflexion (each ankle 10 x 3)

Ankle inversion and eversion (each ankle 10 x 3)