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Chronic Ankle Instability

Is Chronic Ankle Instability Treatable with Physiotherapy?

Ankle pain can really throw a wrench in your daily routine, making everything from walking to working out a challenge. Whether your ankle pain is from an injury, overuse, or a chronic condition, finding relief is crucial to getting back on your feet. That’s where physiotherapy comes in. Through targeted exercises and treatments, ankle pain physiotherapy in Spruce Grove helps reduce pain, improves mobility, and strengthens your ankle.

What is Chronic ankle instability?

It is a condition characterized by recurring episodes of giving way or feeling unstable in the ankle joint, often resulting from a previous ankle sprain that didn’t fully heal or was not rehabilitated properly. This instability can significantly impact a person’s daily activities and quality of life, as it may lead to frequent ankle sprains, difficulty walking on uneven surfaces, and reduced participation in physical activities or sports. 

Symptoms of chronic ankle instability encompass feelings of the ankle “giving way” or “rolling over” during movement, persistent discomfort or pain around the ankle joint, swelling or tenderness, and a sense of ankle weakness or instability when standing or walking. 

Over time, if left untreated, chronic ankle instability can maximize the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the ankle joint and may lead to further chronic ankle injury or functional limitations.

Is Chronic Ankle Instability Treatable with Physiotherapy?

Yes, chronic ankle instability (CAI) is treatable with physiotherapy! Physiotherapy is one of the most effective ways to manage and often significantly improve this condition. The goal is to strengthen the muscles around the ankle, enhance proprioception (your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location), and improve overall stability.

Here’s a breakdown of how physiotherapy can help:

Strengthening Exercises:

The primary focus of strengthening exercises for CAI is on the peroneal muscles located on the outer side of your lower leg. These muscles are essential for controlling ankle movements and providing lateral stability. However, it’s also important to strengthen the surrounding muscles, including the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) and the muscles of the foot and lower leg.

Resistance Band Exercises:

Resistance bands offer versatile tools that can effectively target and strengthen the peroneal muscles.

Lateral Band Walks: To perform this exercise, begin by securing a resistance band around your ankles and then position your feet spaced at hip-width apart, with your knees slightly bent. Then, take small lateral steps to the side while maintaining tension in the band. Aim to walk about ten steps in one direction and then return to your starting position. 

This exercise targets the peroneal muscles, which play a vast role in stabilizing the ankle joint and helps improve lateral stability.

Balance and Proprioception Training:

Enhancing balance and proprioception is crucial for managing chronic ankle instability (CAI). Proprioception, your body’s ability to sense its position and movements, is essential for maintaining stability and preventing falls. By focusing on balance and proprioception training, you can significantly improve your ankle’s strength and resilience. 

Wobble Board Exercises

Wobble boards are designed to move in multiple directions, providing a greater challenge to your balance and proprioception.

To perform wobble board squats, begin by standing on a wobble board with your feet shoulder-width apart. As you squat down, maintain a straight back and keep your knees aligned with your toes. Then, return to the starting position. Strive to finish three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. 

This exercise fortifies the lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Range of Motion Exercises:

Restoring and maintaining the full range of motion (ROM) in your ankle is vital for overcoming chronic ankle instability (CAI). Flexibility exercises, along with gentle stretching and mobility routines, play a significant role in reducing stiffness, alleviating discomfort, and improving overall ankle function.

Alphabet Exercise:

The alphabet exercise is a fun and effective way to increase ankle mobility and ROM.

To perform this exercise, sit comfortably with one leg extended and imagine your big toe as a pen, using it to “write” the letters of the alphabet in the air. Move slowly and deliberately, ensuring you trace each letter with the full range of motion available in your ankle. Repeat this process with the other ankle. 

This exercise engages multiple directions of ankle movement and promotes improved ankle flexibility and coordination by working through various ranges of motion.

Manual Therapy:

Manual therapy, a cornerstone of physical rehabilitation, can be incredibly effective in treating chronic ankle instability (CAI). It involves hands-on techniques performed by our physiotherapists to improve joint function, reduce pain, and enhance mobility. 

Joint Mobilizations:

During joint mobilizations, our physiotherapists apply controlled, oscillatory movements to the ankle joint, gradually increasing intensity based on the patient’s tolerance. This technique enhances joint mobility, alleviates pain by improving alignment, and encourages synovial fluid flow for cartilage nourishment and reduced friction.

Trigger point therapy:

Our physiotherapists locate and apply direct pressure to muscle knots, known as trigger points, until tension releases, sometimes causing a twitch response. This technique effectively relieves localized pain and tension, improves muscle function, reduces referred pain patterns, and enhances overall muscle flexibility and performance.


Electrotherapy involves applying electrodes to the skin near the affected area and using electrical currents, like TENS or EMS, to reduce pain and inflammation by triggering the nervous system and enhancing blood flow. This technique also enhances muscle function, reduces spasms, and complements manual therapy by providing pain relief and supporting the healing process.

Stepping Towards Relief: 

Ankle pain physiotherapy in Spruce Grove plays a vital role in the comprehensive management of ankle pain. Physiotherapists at Sunrise Physical Therapy aim to address the underlying causes of pain, improve joint mobility, and enhance overall function. By tailoring treatment plans to individual requirements and goals, ankle pain physiotherapy in Spruce Grove offers effective relief from ankle pain while promoting long-term recovery, allowing individuals to regain mobility, stability, and quality of life.

Don’t let ankle pain hold you back any longer! Book an appointment with our registered physiotherapists to help you regain strength, stability, and confidence in your movements.