How to Fully Recover from An Ankle Sprain

[ 0 ] January 20, 2016 |

Having an ankle sprain or injury of any sort can be debilitating and very frustrating especially if you are not accustomed to being injured.   What’s worse is when you injure yourself and you have important things to do in the near future.   Those things could be going to work, a family vacation or other projects around the house.  To add complexity to an already difficult matter one may not have insurance to visit the doctor right away.  One of the most common injuries amongst active people is spraining or twisting the ankle.  As an athlete I have had the misfortune of spraining my ankle more than fifty times.  During those times I was able to gather (what I think are) some of the best healing methods from sports medicine physicians and athletic trainers.

According to, an ankle sprain is a common musculoskeletal injury in which the ligaments of the ankle partially or completely tear due to sudden stretching.  The complications that can stem from an ankle sprain are many because it all depends on how the ankle was “twisted or turned” during the incident and the overall health of the individual.  As long as the ankle does not  contain any broken bones there is a great chance that you can get better within a week’s time or less.  Below some things that you will want to do to return to normal activities as soon as possible.

1. Ice immediately after the ankle sprain.  More than likely you will experience swelling depending on the severity (grade) of the ankle sprain.  Icing will keep the inflammation down and help to promote immediate healing.  Anytime athletes sprain their ankle during competition they are generally told to tie the shoe tighter to prevent further inflammation.  After you remove your shoe you should ice for fifteen to twenty minutes each time at about five to seven times per day for the first 48 hours.  Be sure to allow at least one hour of recovery time between icing sessions.  One of the best ways to ice is to put the ice in a plastic bag first and suck the air out of the bag and tie it up.  You can then place it on your ankle and use an ace bandage wrap to secure the position of the ice.  You don’t want to wrap it too tight but it should have some pressure behind it.

It is best to lay or sit down with the ankle propped up during your icing sessions.  If the ice bag does not seem to work then you can either put your foot in a tub of cold water and place ice in the tub or you can fill up a plastic styrofoam cup with water and put it in the freezer.  After the water freezes you can give yourself an “ice massage” with the cup.  This way is a bit more tedious but it allows you to massage the area with minor pressure and keep the inflammation down.  My college athletic trainer Thomas Hitcho healed many people using the ice massage method for people that came to him with an ankle sprain.

2. Spell your ABC’s with your big toe.  This may seem odd but it has proven to be a very valuable asset in regaining strength after an ankle sprain.  Once the pain has subsided you will need to begin to strengthen those ligaments that have been stretched out of place.  At this time they are still weak so they may be supseptible to re-injury.  This allows you to strengthen without putting pressure on your ankle.  It is done by sitting down on a bed and positioning the injured ankle so that it hangs off of the bed enough for you to comfortably move it around without striking it against the bed.  To acheive good positioning you should probably have from the top of your calf muscle to the bottom of your foot drooping off of the bed.  Always start with the lower case alphabets first and then move to the capital letters.  Once you become advanced you will be able to perform the alphabet in cursive.  Make sure that you are spelling out the letters with your big toe.  This exercise is very useful even when you are not recovering from an ankle sprain.  The goal is to take preventative measures once you have completely healed.

The stronger the ankle is the more balance you will have and be less likely to get injured if your foot should rotate suddenly.  Perform this exercise two to three times per day.



3. One legged balancing.  As you become more comfortable in your ankle strength you will also need to get back to being functional.  Standing on one leg will allow you to build the small muscles and ligaments around the ankle that you may not know exist.  This will be your first test to see just how much pressure your foot can stand.  I encourage you to take gradual steps in each of these tips.  Restoring balance to your foot is the purpose of this exercise.  You may fall sometimes because the ankle is still in the recovery process so it is good to stand next to a wall or an object that will allow you to catch yourself if you should stumble.   Sucking in your belly button while balancing is a great way to keep balance.  It is not necessary to raise the opposite leg too far from the ground (think about the movie The Karate Kid) but if you do it will only challenge you more and in the end give you more strength.  As you advance you can put a tennis ball or a small object on the floor in front of you and bend over from the waist and try to pick up the ball while standing on one leg.  After you pick the ball up and rise back to your starting position you place the ball back on the floor.  Remember this is only after you have advanced!  Perform this exercise three times in the morning and three times at night balancing for  one minute each time.

4. Hit the Pool.   At this point you are getting stronger but ankle sprain is not considered to be “clinically cured” so we must continue to proceed with caution.  You are now getting stronger and should be able to walk with minimal pain to no pain.  Please note that just because you don’t have pain does not mean that your ankle is strong.  We continue in the pool to create more strength and functionability.  If you are someone who attends a gym everyday then this will save you from suffering long days at home with no exercise until the ankle is back to normal.  Swimming not only trims body fat but it builds lean muscle and provides an excellent cardio workout.

The constant foot kicking motion is a great exercise that not only works the ankles but works every muscle group in the legs.  The body is so complex that muscles from your upper thigh connect all the way down to your ankle.  Any small problem with one leg muscle can play a huge role in the malfunction of the ankles.  If there is a problem in the feet then there is probably a problem higher up in the ankles, knee, hips or back.  If you do not know how to swim the best way to work the ankle in the water would be to hold on to pool wall, lean back, rest your upper back and arms against the wall of the pool and flutter kick.  The kicking will cause the lower half of your body to come to the surface.  In order to stay afloat you have to continue kicking, which will in turn provide you with a good ankle and leg workout.  Perform this exercise two times per week for five to ten minutes.



5. Calf Raises and Calf Stretches.  You should now be ready to lift up on your toes.  The goal here is to simulate your everyday action of walking in an exagerrated form.  Calf raises could be the best exercise in building ankle strength.  If the calf muscle is tight that could potentially add to your foot and ankle problems seeing that there are tendons that run directly from the calf to the ankle and heel bone.  You should start with a number of repetitions that you can do for 3 sets.  For example, if you can do 20 calf raises comfortably in one set then you should do 3 sets of 20 repetitions in the morning and night.  That will give you a daily total of 120 repetitions.  It is wise to do light stretching before you begin and a bit more intense stretching after you finish your sets.  The website provides excellent examples of how one should stretch their calves on a daily basis.  If you can complete these five steps after you have suffered an ankle sprain then it is a big chance that your ankles will become even stronger when you return.

Some of the exercises may be for you and some of them may not be for you but by all means you must start with icing.  Any doctor or medical practitioner will tell you that the application of ice is non-negotiable.  Another option that may help you in the process is the use of an ankle brace.  Ankle braces are not very popular in my book because people tend to grow dependent upon them and they get psychologically bonded to the brace.  They seem to believe that they cannot run or play without the brace.  The brace is good but it does not solve the underlying problem of a weak ankle so that is my reason for not recommending a brace as a first choice.  There are those who may really need a brace for temporary stability (those with arthritis, osteoporosis, people recovering from bone breaks or fractures) and in those cases I certainly recommend the use of them but not over the liefspan ofan individual.

Due to the nature of many sports, those who participate in high contact sports that require excessive amounts of running, hitting or jumping are required to tape their ankles before every practice or game.  It is more popular in the college and pro ranks because there is more money at stake.  Taping your ankle is somewhat far-fetched but it too is another option for those who have ankle issues or want to avoid any ankle injuries.

This article is  courtesy of ThisIsCochise

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Category: Exercise

About the Author ()

Cochise Tarak-Saa is a health advocate who has authored various forms of health and wellness content specializing in the physical (exercise), physiological (nutrition) and the social (personal development) areas of well-being.