The extensor digitorum longus extends the toes and dorsiflexes the ankle.

On Wednesday, I hoped to answer the question plaguing movement professionals and those dealing with injuries: ice or no ice? R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compress, and elevate), has been standard procedure since the term was coined more than 30 years ago, but since then recent research has suggested that M.E.A.T. (move, exercise, analgesics, and treatment) may be a better option. When recovering from a sprained ankle, whether you decide to use the R.I.C.E, M.E.A.T, or a combination of the two, the next question is how to speed recovery back to full functionality and performance.

After a sprain, ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM) may be impaired, which can lead to functional limitations in your gait and possible re-injury (Denegar et al., 2002). Therapeutic exercise to restore ROM of the ankle which may be impaired after injury has been shown to speed recovery compared to immobilization (Kaminski et al., 2013). One such therapeutic exercise for ankle mobility is to use the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to clean up the soft tissue area below your lateral malleolus. This area can develop scar tissue if not mobilized properly after an ankle sprain, potentially causing a limited ankle-dorsiflexion ROM.

Jill Miller and Dr. Kelly Starrett have a great video below about the importance of regaining range of motion in the ankle regardless if you are recovering from injury. You may be surprised at your improved range of motion from this short ankle ball buster!


Check out Jill and Dr. Kelly’s latest project, Treat While You Train for more ankle self massage and therapy ball techniques to clear up tension throughout the body.



1. Kaminski TW, Hertel J, Amendola N, et al. National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: conservative management and preventing of ankle sprains in athletes. J Athl Train. 2013;48:528-545

2. Denegar CR, Hertel J, Fonseca J. The effect of lateral ankle sprain on dorsiflexion range of motion, posterior talar glide, and joint laxity. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2002;32(4):166–173.


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Maya Talisa

Maya’s background in competitive martial arts and volleyball has guided a passion for promoting wellness among athletes through yoga at the high school, collegiate, professional, and Olympic levels. In collaboration with coaches, Maya works with individual athletes and teams to improve performance and reduce injures. Her classes blend guided movement and breath to create balance and flexibility. She is dedicated to promoting strength, conditioning, and lengthening to prepare athletes to compete at the top of their sport and realize their ultimate potential. Certifications & Special Skills: 200e-RYT Teacher Training with Marianne Wells | Mentorship under Marianne Wells, Mark Stephens, Joseph Sarti and Clippers Yoga Coach Kent Katich | Masters in Public Health, Community Health Sciences, UCLA | Yogi Beans: Children's Yoga | Post-Natal Yoga | Baby & Me Yoga | Black Belt Tae Kwan Do, Sparring Coach | Certified Yoga Tune Up® Instructor

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Elizabeth Pezzello

Great post! A co-worker of mine recently sprained his ankle – I will definitely show him this article!

jan hollander

I am reading this article as a preparation for the ballsequence or presentation I have to give the ytu teacher trainer course I am currently in.
I am very excited about the article I had an ankle injury myself nearly a year ago did do some work with the ytu balls but this is the treatment I needed,so thank you for your researchand the article


Thank you for great article and video. I have very unstable ankles so I often sprained my both ankles. I missed few steps falling at stairs then I finally had avulsion fracture at my left ankle. I immediately did R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compress, and elevate), and walked around for about 10 days before I realized I needed to see a doctor. Its’ been 7 years, and the ROM is 90% back. I shall give The Therapy Balls a try for few weeks on regular base to see it I can gain more ROM.

Shelly Lutz

What a great instructional video to help regain mobility in the ankle! I should do this just to see what my range is like even though I sprained my ankle 2 years ago. Just sent this post to a friend who sprained their ankle in the fall as well. Good stuff!


Great tips and techniques to get an injury mobilized again. I feel a lot of the concepts behind the techniques can be applied to wrists sprains as well for those acrobatic yogis!


My daughter is a basketball player and has sprained her left ankle more than once. She still complains of tightness and now wears an ankle brace when she plays. I will definitely share this video with her. Thanks!

Isabelle P

I will surely add this to my basketball athlete training routine.

M. Summer Zaffino

Growing up playing basketball, I have rolled my ankles many more times than I can count. I had my left ankle reconstructed. All three of my lateral ligaments had ruptured and did not show up on the MRI. I also broke it in 4 separate places. I was told that I would not be able to walk again without a limp but 13 years after surgery I am walking, running and practicing yoga. to the naked eye, you would never know that I have injured ankles. However, I have massive amounts of scar tissue build up that completely limits my… Read more »


How soon after injury can this be done for a severe sprain with bone bruising? Per my ortho. I am advised to be on crutches for 7-10 days and wear a soft cast/booty. There is still a lot of swelling and pain so definitely not ready to put a ball or pressure on it now but not sure at what point? Thanks!

Sophie Desmarais

Growing up a basketball player, I have sprained my ankles very often. R.I.C.E definitely became part of my usual recovery routine. I wish I was more aware of different recovery modalities, including M.E.A.T. I will work on rolling my ankles to overcome some residual scar tissue that might be affecting my ankle ROM. M.E.A.T will also be something I will implement in the future or suggest to my athletes and students.


This is so helpful! I recently sprained my ankle and it really does feel my range of motion is definitely impaired. eeep. I definitely feel the instability of the joint. Thanks Jill and Kelly!


Love this video, Kelley and Jill are so great together. I have been spraining my ankle for years, I know I need to roll it out like this but I also know it won’t be relaxing! Thanks!

Keiko Johnson

Really enjoyed watching Jill and Kelly working together. I think this ankle ball buster could be useful to anyone who wears restrictive footwear like ski boots. Thank you for helping me relieve ankle pain after three particularly long days in ice skates.

Betty Homer

Thank you–I so needed this after having sprained my ankle running last Nov. Although I am thrilled to run again, I am concerned about scar tissue developing or having already developed. The video link was very helpful!


Thanks for this post, it was excellent! I’ve never seen the YTU balls used in this way. I broke my fibia five years ago and while I did traditional rehab I still have some stuck areas from scar tissue which limits range of movement. Doing this little sequence has been amazing for recovering lost range of movement and improves my gait!


The sprained ankle is so common for athletes of all kinds, but particularly dancers, with whom I work closely. When a student comes to class with a sprained ankle (or recovering from one), I am very often unsure what to do if the student cannot participate in a pose during classes. Nobody likes to just sit down and wait while everyone else moves! So this is a great opportunity for me to offer advice and teach the student (and perhaps the rest of the class as well) how to self-care. Thank you!


THIS is what I needed!

My ankles will hate me initially but it will be great to get my range of motion back – thank you!


My mind is blown! Seriously. As someone who has been spraining her ankles since age 9, this changes everything.

Debra Forselius

I love this, as a trainer I often get client with ankle sprains. So often it is my tennis players. It is great that this technique can help them mobilizing the ankle with the ball leading the way to recovery. They do not want to miss their match.

Nicole Adell Johnson

I love this way of getting the ROM back and clearing scar tissue in the ankle after a sprain. As a dancer I have had my share of mild sprains. And to know that I can aid in my recovery by self mobilization is a gem. To often we wait for a physical therapist to moboloze and heal the area, knowing that I can do this with the YTU balls Is great.


This post caught my attention since my 14 year-old daughter sprained her ankle several months ago. She has continued to have some pain and I think I will help her explore some options with the therapy balls after watching the video a few more times to let the details sink in.


Very interesting perspective- I sprained my ankle over two years ago now, and while I have regained most of my ROM, I definitely feel a sense of instability in the joint. I believe I actually rested the area for too long after the injury, and therefore faced a greater hurdle when it came to movement rehabilitation. I think if I had introduced some gentle movement through YTU it would have helped so much in the long run. Will definitely share this with my clients!

Ann Knighton

I sprained my ankle a while ago. I tried the YTU ball on my ankle and the range did improve. I will also share it with people that wear high heels.


I’d love to know where the ball is located when Jill places the ball under the ankle, holds it down and then rocks her heel down? It’s the last sequence she describes. Thanks!


I never thought to roll a YTU ball on my ankle but given how much we use and abuse such a complex set of little bones! I especially love the pin and stretch move. Awesome


love the video’s of you and Kelly….educational yet entertaining. Going to work on my ankles today.