Five Ways to Speed Your Recovery From a Sprained Ankle
Ankle sprains are incredibly common. Each day, 25,000 people in the United States experience the injury. Sprains often occur during sports, but walking on an uneven surface or wearing unstable shoes, such as high heels, can cause instability and force the foot and ankle into unnatural positions.
If you’re unlucky enough to experience an ankle sprain, you can heal more quickly by following the advice of our expert podiatry staff at Complete Foot and Ankle. Of course, how fast you get back to a fully functioning ankle depends on the degree of your sprain as well as the way you care for it. More severe sprains take a bit longer to heal.
Here are five ways to have your sprained ankle on the mend in no time:
1. Cold therapy
Icing your injured ankle regularly reduces swelling and pain sensations. Ice it immediately, or at least within 48 hours of the injury, but also throughout your healing process.
Use an ice bag, premade ice pack, or a bag of frozen vegetables, or make your own ice bag by filling a freezer bag with ice cubes and water. Make sure you wrap the ice pack with a thin towel and only keep it on for 15-20 minutes to prevent damaging your skin. Ice two or three times per day, or as needed.
If you’re an athlete or someone who spends a lot of time on your feet, rest can be hard, but it’s essential for proper healing of your sprained ankle. This means staying off it not only for exercise, but also avoiding prolonged periods of standing and walking. How long you’ll need to rest depends on the grade of your sprain and your body’s healing process.
If you want to exercise, talk to the doctors about swimming, cycling, or elliptical training as lower impact, more ankle-friendly options. Whatever you do, don’t rush the resting process. Forcing a sprained ankle to function too soon can prolong the injury and pain.
Wrap your ankle to control swelling and immobilize the ankle, so you’re less likely to aggravate the sprain. An elastic bandage or compression sleeve supports the joint, but be careful to wrap it snugly, but not so tightly that you cut off circulation and lose sensation.
While you’re resting your ankle, prop it up on a stool or chair as you sit or lie down, so it’s higher than your heart. This helps reduce swelling by reducing the rate of fluid movement into the injured joint. Reduced swelling leads to less pain and also allows the body to heal inflammation more quickly. Instead of having to work to combat the excess fluid in the area, your body can work on combating inflammation at the joint, which can help your ankle heal faster.
5. Physical therapy
Exercises that target the ankle joint and promote renewed range of motion and restoration of strength help get you back on your feet faster. Always wait until the doctors say your ankle is ready for these exercises, however. You’ll add in exercises, such as ankle circles and gentle rubber resistance flexion and extension movements, to help combat stiffness and weakness.
If you want to heal faster, try to faithfully follow the physical therapy schedule offered by the podiatrists at Complete Foot and Ankle. If you skip days or only intermittently perform the exercises, it’ll take longer for your ankle to recover.
You can expedite your recovery from a sprained ankle more quickly by devoting yourself to these self-care strategies. Our staff at Complete Foot and Ankle is happy to support your efforts and can help you determine when you’re ready to progress through each stage of rehabilitation.