Whether your a professional athlete or just someone who goes jogging regularly, a sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries most people have. However, despite it happening fairly regularly, most people don’t really know how to treat it properly. It might not be enough to deserve a trip to the hospital, but you really do need to take care of it.
Damage to your ankles can mean problems with walking, so any sprained ankle should be taken seriously and carefully in order to ensure that there is no permanent damage. In this article, we’ll look at what to do when you strain your ankle.
How to deal with a sprained ankle
When you first sprain your ankle or any other joint, most medical professional recommend treating it at home with the RICE method. This doesn’t involve wrapping your ankle in Chinese food (although you are free to do so if you wish), but rather following the 4 steps of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Rest – Obviously, you really need to rest a sprained ankle. Avoid all unnecessarily movement and definitely but all your exercise activities on hold. don’t put any weight on the injury, and if you really need to walk, try using crutches but only if it doesn’t hurt to use them.
Ice – For the first 48 to 72 hours, your sprain will be swollen and very tender. Try using an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables on it for around 20 minutes every 2 hours or so. This will help keep the swelling under control and relieve some pain. Make sure you wrap the ice or vegetables on a cloth or tea towel so as to avoid getting an ice burn.
Compression – For the first 24 to 32 hours, the ankle should be wrapped. This will help keep everything in the proper place to allow the healing to begin, give your ankle some support and also help with swelling.
Elevation – Keep your ankle above the level of your heart for 2 or 3 hours a day if possible to help with swelling. If you are lying down in bed, you can prop up the injured leg on a pillow
If you are in severe pain and are not taking and prescription medicines, you may want to consider taking an over the counter pain relief such as ibuprofen, although we recommend you check with a medical professional before doing so.
Should you wrap a sprained ankle?
Yes, you should definitely use a compression wrap on your ankle for the first day or two. However, you need to be careful to make sure that the wrap is firm but not too tight. If you start to feel any extra pain, numbness or tingling in your ankle after you put the wrap on, then this is a sign that it is too tight, and you should loosen it or take it off and apply it again. You can also use an ankle brace or ankle support to help, especially if you are having trouble putting weight on it.
When to go to the emergency room
While most sprained ankles can be treated at home, there are some cases when a trip to the hospital is absolutely necessary and should not be delayed. Call the doctor right away if you feel or see any of the following:
- Severe pain, bleeding or bruising
- Numbness or a change of skin color in the effected area
- The ankle looks bent out of shape or somehow deformed
- You can’t put any weight on it at all
How to make your ankles stronger?
If you sprain or roll your ankles often, there are some exercises that you can try which will strengthen them and stop this from happening regularly. These will not only firm up your ankles, but also the other muscles in your lower legs. However, we do recommend you check with your family doctor before trying them out, especially if you have a history of ankle problems.
Standing calf raises: This one is very simple but effective. All you need to do is lift yourself up onto your toes your 15 reps. Make sure all your weight is on your toes and nothing is on your heels. Some like to do this while holding dumbbells for added challenge.
Heel walks: This one looks a little silly, it it is very good for strengthening your lower leg. Simply lift the front of your feet off the ground, having all your weight on your heels, and walk across the room a few times
Balance on one foot – Balancing on each foot for 60 seconds at a time will help with your ankles a lot. You’ll not only strengthen them up, but it wil help with your sense of balance.