What makes virtual reality games look so lifelike ? It’s the three dimensional video. The real world is three dimensional or has three planes of motion, or three axis. These terms are all saying the same thing. Life is in 3D. Your rehab program needs to match that too or we wont have you back and fully prepared for the real world, only a limited amount of it. The plane you don’t train will be the plane you get injured in.
Here are some helpful exercises you can do to help recover 3D function after an ankle sprain. Please keep in mind once you are no longer in pain you aren’t necessarily recovered. You have to prove you have recovered your mobility and your control in all three planes of motion. I like to see my patients pass the Y Balance Test, Please click here to see my blog post, “Last years ankle is this years knee.”
Knowing where you are in space so you can execute your intended movements is important. For our legs much of that sense is kinesthetic. We feel the ground and our joint angles. This kinesthetic sense is called proprioception. Because the nerve endings that provide proprioceptive input are embedded into joint tissues, when we suffer a sprain we usually lose some of our proprioception and have to train to restore it.
Here’s a great exercise for proprioception. It’s my balance series. Begin ½ kneeling, progress to a split stance then narrow that stance until you’re on a line and then progress to single leg stance. Click here to watch
Another one great for 3D ankle rehab is our “shoulder alphabet” exercise. Follow the instructions for the version where you stand on one leg (the injured leg) and have the weight in your opposite hand. You’ll get lots of good from this one. Click here to watch
The Pallof press is normally thought of for the spine, but with some small tweaks we love it for ankle rehab. Follow this video for some ankle challenges. Click here to watch
If you’ve recovered well enough to do these exercises without pain then you definitely want to get your Y balance test done to make sure there isn’t any risk lingering you don’t know about. Just like getting your blood pressure checked because you cannot tell if you don’t check it. Getting a Y Balance test after the pain is gone from a sprain is a really good idea. Because you cant tell if you don’t measure, and just like your blood pressure it’s a risk factor you want to address if its there.