Your ankle joint is supported by ligaments, and once these ligaments are stretched or torn due to an ankle sprain, they remain stretched. This causes your joint to become loose and unstable, and this makes getting another ankle injury much easier.
To stop the inevitable cycle of recurring future ankle injuries, it’s important to take proper steps to recover from your ankle sprain.
What to do if You Sprain Your Ankle
Seek Medical Attention if Needed
Failure to properly identify all possible damage to your ankle may lengthen healing time and cause more damage.
Perform some gentle range of motion exercises right after your injury help to improve functional outcomes. This may also help to decrease your return-to-play time.
Protect and Support
Wear an appropriate ankle brace support system until your injury has healed, and you can evaluate your next steps.
Use the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to help control your pain, in addition to anything recommended by your medical professional.
Perform any physical therapy exercises specifically prescribed to you as you recover from your injury.
Help Prevent Future Ankle Injuries
Even with strong muscles, perfect biomechanics, and great conditioning, ankle sprains are still possible, and—in some situations—they are highly likely to occur. After spraining your ankle, the best way to prevent recurrent ankle injuries and further damage to your ligaments is to wear a preventative ankle brace that is comfortable to wear and provides full range of motion. Lace-up ankle braces are not recommended due to their negative impact on strength as well as performance and range of motion.
Treating Your Ankle Sprain
When it comes to immediately treating an ankle sprain, the RICE protocol is the most common method used by athletic trainers, coaches, and parents everywhere to quickly treat mild injuries.
Follow the RICE protocol to treat mild ankle sprains if you’ve decided to not immediately see a medical professional.
Decrease your activity so your ankle has time to start healing.
Apply ice to your injured ankle in the following ways:
- Ice in a plastic bag (apply to the ankle for 20-25 minutes)
- Ice made in a paper cup (Apply to the ankle for 8-10 minutes and rip off the top of the paper cup as the ice melts)
- Immersion in ice water (5-10 minutes)
You should ice your ankle many times throughout the day, waiting at least 30 minutes between each ice application.
Compression helps to reduce swelling, so tightly wrap an elastic bandage around your ankle and loosen the wrap if it becomes uncomfortable.
Elevate your ankle above the level of your heart to reduce blood flow to the area and help alleviate increased swelling.
Before following any rehabilitation protocol, consult with your physician. Your injury may be too severe to undertake the exercises you find online.
If you feel that at home treatment and rehabilitation is the best solution for your sprained ankle, our certified athletic trainers have compiled a guide featuring their most recommended ankle sprain rehab exercises.
Download the Ultra Ankle Rehab Guide (PDF) →
Please consult your physician or a certified athletic trainer before attempting any rehabilitation exercises. Your injury may be too severe to undertake these exercises, and it is always best to err on the side of caution.