We treat so many different issues and ailments at The Green Room, and one of these is ankle pain and stiffness. This is most often seen in ankles that have been sprained several times in the past, but may also be seen in those who have arthritis, Achilles tendon issues, flat feet, among other diagnoses.
Here are some of our top tips to combat ankle stiffness, regardless of what's causing it.
1. Ankle Active Range of Motion (AROM) exercises while sitting: These include ankle pumps (pointing feet up/down), ankles circles, and drawing the alphabet with your foot. You can do these while sitting at work, sitting down for a meal, or when hanging out on the couch. Aim for 20-30 reps of each, 2-3 times per day.
2. Stretch your calves and supporting muscles. Some ways to stretch your calves include heel drop-downs on a step, the standing runner's stretch, or using a strap. Keeping the supporting muscles and tendons limber will lead to less pulling and resistance from the soft tissues around the joint.
3. Wear proper footwear. Make sure to avoid heels, even small ones, as they put the foot and ankle in a position that shortens the Achilles tendon. Over time, this will make the Achilles and calves stiff, causing poor mobility in the ankle. Aim for supportive sneakers or custom foot orthotics in your shoes or built into your sandals if needed. At the clinic, we provide our patients in need with Foot Levelers custom foot orthotics or custom flip flops and sandals when sneakers just aren't cutting it. Learn more here: https://www.footlevelers.com/products
4. Move to tolerance. The old way to manage stiff, sore, or sprained ankles was to throw on a brace or splint and chill out on the couch on an ice pack. Now, early weight bearing and mobility are shown to be the way to go for immediate and long-term healing. So try to keep moving and avoid long periods of sitting or lying.
5. If your ankle(s) swell, consider compression socks or stockings. Managing edema, or swelling, can help to feel looser and more mobile in your ankles and lower legs. If you are prone to swelling due to sprains or vascular issues, compression stockings can help manage this, and help you get through your day with less stiffness. And with the extra heat and humidity of the Summer, this can make swelling more severe for many people. You can find these over the counter at a drug store or online.
If you try all of these tips and are still struggling with ankle stiffness or pain, you should consult a Physical Therapist. You may schedule a free consultation by phone or in-person with one of our Doctors here: https://www.thegreenroomptny.com/events-and-offers
We hope that at least one of these tips can help you, let us know your thoughts or experiences in the Comments below!
In good health,
Dr. Ashley Bertorelli, PT and Clinic Founder
Clifton Park & Troy