Among the list of injuries related to ballet dancing, sprained ankles are the most common. They often occur when you least expect it whether by landing incorrectly on a grand jete or losing stability during fouettes. Luckily, you can drastically reduce your chances of injury by drilling technique and strengthening exercises. But in case the unfortunate happens, don’t panic! I have inside knowledge to share on the best and quickest ways to heal your sprained ankle, so that you can get back on the floor in no time.

Ballet Dancer Rehabilitation Program for Sprained Ankles

Like with most injuries, RICE is the best place to start.

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation.

Afterwards, there are several exercises that can be performed to strengthen and rebuild stability in your ankle.

3 Phase Ankle Rehab Program (remember to always see your doctor or physician prior to doing any rehabilitation)

Phase 1:

Phase 1 will vary depending on the severity of your ankle injury. This is the stage in your injury where it’s painful to put weight on your ankle, but not painful enough where you’re screaming.

  1. Use compression wrap around your outer ankle. Change every few hours.
  2. Actively separate your toes for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times. This helps rebuild the stability of the different tendons and ligaments.
  3. Use the tips of your toes and write out the letters of the alphabet. Repeat this about 5 times per day. This helps to rebuild the regular rotations of the ankle.
  4. Use a stationary bike for about 15-25 minutes per day.
  5. Bosu Ball Standing Balance Exercises – These can be done with shoes on or off. The goal is to have multi –directional movement while standing on the ball. Ultimately, you want to feel stable and to have awareness about where your ankle is in space.

My golden rule is to always listen to your body. If you’re experiencing too much pain, then take it easy.

Phase 2:

Phase 2 of the rehab program is for when you have minimal discomfort and have approximately 90% range of motion back. What 90% range mean is this — if you do ankle rotations, then you’ll only feel mild discomfort, no serious or sharp pain.

  1. Start by stretching all of the stiff joints in your legs and hips.
  2. Perform the theraband exercises shown below. Complete 3 sets of 25 reps in each direction.
  3. Complete double leg and single leg heel raises on the injured side. Do 3 sets of 10 reps twice per day.
  4. Close your eyes and balance on the injured ankle for 30 seconds. Do this 5 times per day.
  5. Use an ankle rock board. Stand on it with just the injured ankle for one minute. Do this 5 times per day.

Phase 3:

Phase 3 is for when you’re practically healed and you can finally hop on the injured ankle without any pain.

  1. Start performing your exercises but be careful. If you find any signs of pain or discomfort, then take it easy.
  2. Luckily most positions in ballet focus on balance and strength of the ankles, so you can begin going through your progressions. Make sure to stop or take a break if you begin to feel any pain or discomfort.
  3. Bosu Ball Lunges – Side and front Bosu ball lunges may be quite challenging, yet they are essential in rebuilding your proprioceptive capacities, while also training your legs and core. Go at your own pace and listen to your body. The earlier exercises are an excellent platform for progressing to more difficult exercises like this Bosu ball lunge.

Let’s be honest sprained ankles suck. Just remember to take it easy, RICE, see your doctor, and follow a rehab program that matches the severity of your sprain.

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