Getting a sprained ankle disrupts your routine. It keeps you from your sports or exercise regimen, forcing you to cut back your activity to virtually nothing. If you’re competitive, you’ll get antsy while in recovery mode right out of the gate. As much as you want to get back out there, you have to take the healing process seriously, so you don’t risk prolonging or exacerbating the injury. The goal is to get back out there as soon as possible, not to aggravate a simple sprain by acting on your impatient impulses. How can you heal a sprained ankle both quickly and efficiently?
Ice and Compression
Cryotherapy should be one of the first things you do after suffering a sprained ankle. The principles of applying cold compresses to an injury are proven to speed up the healing process. However, it isn’t a situation where more is better. Only ice your ankle to the extent it’s necessary since you don’t want to get frostbite. A routine ice compress with gel packs on your ankle should last no longer than 20 minutes at a time. If you feel that the cold is becoming too painful to bear before that threshold, then only ice as long as you’re comfortable.
Regular compression is necessary as well. The best way to stop swelling and provide stability is with a brace or a wrap, whichever you have access to in order to put some pressure on the injury.
Another simple home remedy is to elevate your ankle. Whenever you’re sitting or lying down, which should be most of the time, prop up your ankle so that it’s resting above your waist or heart. When you raise the ankle, the swelling has a chance to go down. Elevation discourages unwanted fluid buildup around the injury, so let gravity do the work. As you begin to get restless, just remember to capitalize on the chance to relax and prop up your feet. You don’t know when you’ll get an opportunity to have an extended break again.
Rest and Exercise
Of course, you need to get adequate rest after any injury. Once you have recuperated, speak with your doctor about the best time to get back on your feet. Entering into the physical therapy portion of your recovery will have you feeling much more encouraged about returning to normal. This isn’t the time to go full speed, though. You need to achieve a balance between rest and exercise. It’s important not to overwork your injury, but not pushing hard enough could weaken your ankle. You know your body, so if something doesn’t feel right, speak with your doctor about holding back or trying different exercises.
RICE is an acronym that describes the treatment to follow when dealing with a sprained ankle, and if done correctly, your recovery should be relatively seamless. Rest, ice, compress, and exercise are the standards of care throughout the healing process. When followed, you’ll be back out on the field or in the gym before you know it.