OC Sports & Rehab


No matter the type of injury, there are two main goals of physical therapy: restoring mobility and restoring strength.

Some fundamental exercises a physical therapist will probably have the patient perform in order to restore mobility include:

“Ankle Alphabet”  – The patient reads the alphabet while forming each letter with their foot in “Ankle Alphabet.” This not only keeps the ankle mobile and reduces swelling, but it also helps the physical therapist identify the specific areas of the foot or ankle that are painful or stiff. The therapist will note which letters the patient finds difficult and which muscles were employed to produce those movements.

Ankle Pumps and Ankle Circles – Simple strengthening exercises called “ankle pumps” and “ankle circles” involve the patient pointing and flexing their toes while moving their ankle in a circular motion.

4-Way Theraband Ankle Movements – The patient moves their ankles in all four directions while wearing a resistance band called a Theraband (pointing toes, flexing toes, moving toes to the right, and moving toes to the left).

After an ankle injury, and particularly after an Achilles tendon rupture, patients frequently experience muscle loss in their calf muscles and decreased strength throughout the entire back side of the leg. A physical therapist may perform the following fundamental exercises to regain strength, particularly in the lower leg’s back:

Seated Calf Raises – Raising your legs while seated will work your soleus muscle. The patient can begin without a kettlebell and progress to using one once their strength starts to increase so they can add more weighted resistance.

Rocker-board or “BAPs Board” –   The patient must adjust their stance depending on the position because the bottom of this wooden or plastic board has an uneven surface. This makes the muscles that move the ankle more powerful (pointing toes, flexing toes, inversion, and eversion). It can be done with two legs or, for a greater challenge, standing on one leg. As the patient improves, different difficulty levels can be introduced.

Leg Press – The patient will perform either a single or double leg press, concentrating on flexing the toes and maintaining a static hold at the motion’s extremes.

Heel Raises/Toe Raises – Heel raises and toe raises will be performed by the patient to strengthen the muscles that cause the toes to point and flex, respectively.

TRX Single Leg Squats – With the aid of the TRX, a patient will perform single leg squats that will aid in the restoration of single leg strength and balance, which are essential for running and walking as well as for future injury prevention.

To learn more visit our ankle physical therapy videos page or contact one of our expert Orange County physical therapists.