You just slightly twisted your leg, it shouldn’t have hurt so much, but it does! Ankle sprains are common injuries that can happen due to the slightest of reasons. And they can debilitate your for a week or so, just like that. If you’re into any kind of sports, you probably have a better idea of the kind of pain sprained ankles give.
Being as common as they are, these sprains don’t necessarily require hospital care. If you’re smart with it, by using a few natural remedies, you can reduce the pain and boost the healing process immediately. Here are some of the best home remedies to treat a sprained ankle.
1. Follow The PRICE Technique For Sprained Ankles
The PRICE technique should be the first option you turn to when you sprain an ankle. Here’s what you do:
Protect Your Ankle
The first step you need to take with ankle sprains is to keep the ankle safe. Now, your first instinct might be to massage the pain away. But, massaging a sprained ankle will actually make the situation worse.
So, cover the ankle with enough padding or wear soft shoes until you can do more about the injury at home or visit the doctor.
Rest As Much As Possible
Your ankle sprain will either get worse or slowly recover depending on your movements. Applying pressure on the injured ankle can worsen your sprain. In the crucial first 48–72 hours after the injury, follow these steps:
- Avoid walking or standing.
- Rest as much as possible for the next 3 days.
- Use crutches, walking sticks, or take support to move around.
Ice The Ankle
Icing the injured ankle will reduce inflammation and pain. The ice can also stop any torn ligaments from bleeding and prevent swelling. To get the best results, apply ice on the ankle in the first 48–72 hours after the injury.
- Wrap a towel around a few ice cubes and apply on the area for about 15 minutes and not longer.
- Repeat this once every 2 hours.
- Never apply the ice directly on the skin as it can be too harsh.
Compress The Ankle
Compress the ankle immediately after the injury to restrict movements. This will reduce and prevent any further pain. This can help:
- Using elastic or crepe bandages, wrap the ankle starting from your toes till the mid-calf.
- Do not to wrap too tightly as it can restrict blood flow.
- Keep the bandage on only during the day and remove before you sleep.
- Use a splint over the compression to further reduce movements.
- Stop compressing or loosen it if the swelling increases, you get a tingling feeling and more pain, you feel numbness, or the ankle turns blue.
Elevate The Ankle
Elevating is the best way to reduce swelling and inflammation. When sleeping or resting, place the ankle higher than where your heart is. Do this for about 3 hours for at least 3 days.
2. Treat Sprained Ankles With Kitchen Ingredients
Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic and is used as a home remedy for multiple ailments, including sprains.1 There are different ways to use turmeric for ankle sprains. One such method is this:
- To warm water, add 2 tbsp turmeric and 1 tbsp lime juice.
- Mix to form a paste, apply it on the sprained ankle, and wrap it up with a bandage.
- Leave it on for a few hours and repeat as required.
Soak In Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is calming for strained muscles and also relaxing for the nerves. And since it’s easily available, it’s one of the best emergency remedies for ankle sprains.2
- Prepare warm water.
- Add a cup of Epsom salt to this and let it dissolve.
- Soak the ankle in this for about half an hour.
- Repeat twice or thrice a day, as needed.
Garlic can soak up the pain and provide relief from ankle sprains. Adding to this is its anti-inflammatory property. All you have to do is this:
- Mix garlic juice and warm coconut oil in the ratio of 1:2 tablespoons.
- Apply this on the affected area and retain for about half an hour.
- Wash it with lukewarm water.
- Repeat up to 4 times a day, as required.
3. Apply Essential Oils On The Sprained Ankle
Essential oils, either alone or as blends, are used to treat multiple health issues. These oils are the easiest to use for ankle sprains as all you need to do is dilute and apply on the affected area while giving the ankle an extremely gentle massage. The essential oils you can use to treat ankle sprains are:
- Arnica: This is an anti-inflammatory oil that reduces pain as well. It heals the muscles quicker, improves blood circulation, and strengthens your body.
- Olive oil: Olive oil is anti-inflammatory thanks to its phenolic compounds. Don’t dilute olive oil but just heat it a little bit, let it cool down to lukewarm temperature, and apply on the affected area.
- Lemongrass oil: Lemongrass oil is famously used to reduce pain in arthritic patients. For ankle sprains, you can either apply it as is or mix it with olive oil in the ratio of 1:4.
- Castor oil: Castor oil is not only useful for hair growth but also to reduce inflammation. Wrap your ankle using a cotton cloth dipped in castor oil and leave it for half an hour. Keep your ankle elevated during this time.
4. Correct Your Form And Posture To Avoid Sprained Ankles
More often than not, you might sprain your ankle without doing anything outwardly to injure it. This happens due to a bad form, posture, or way of walking. There are a few ways in which you might be moving wrong.
- Rolling your foot outward either excessively or too low could hurt your feet and legs due to excess stress.
- High arches and/or Achilles tendons can also cause multiple types of injuries. These make your body unstable and lose balance.
- Excess dorsiflexion, the backward movement that brings the foot close to the ankle, can weaken your joints and muscles and make your ankles roll.
Follow these tips to prevent these injuries:
- Always practice some stretching exercises targeting your leg muscles before starting the actual workout/run.
- Take shorter steps and do not overexert your legs or feet.
- Relax and run upright with your back.
- As you come to a stop, softly land on the midsection of your feet and not the heel.
While recovering, slowly take up a few leg-strengthening exercises based on your doctor/physiotherapist’s recommendation. Wear comfortable soft shoes that are neither flat nor high-heeled.
5. Eat Healthy To Heal Sprained Ankles
No matter how much you try to exercise the strength back into your ankle, if you’re nutrient-deficient, you won’t progress far. Apart from using kitchen ingredients on the sprain and exercising, you need to eat healthily. Here is a list of foods that would help you recover:
- Food sources with collagen, a form of protein
- Organic, good-quality lean protein such as seafood, beans, and soy, which can rebuild the tissues
- Antioxidant-rich green-leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli
- Vitamin C-rich foods that help rebuild collagen
- Foods high in zinc, which rebuild tissues and increase your immunity
Even if you follow all these steps, continuing certain bad habits can be a hurdle on your road to recovery. So, avoid excess caffeine, salt, alcohol, oily junk foods, and sugar. Follow a strict healthy diet and lifestyle not just till you recover but always to stay healthy.
|↑1||Aggarwal, Bharat B., Wei Yuan, Shiyou Li, and Subash C. Gupta. “Curcumin‐free turmeric exhibits anti‐inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric.” Molecular nutrition & food research 57, no. 9 (2013): 1529-1542.|
|↑2||Paige, Neil M., and Aksone Nouvong. “The top 10 things foot and ankle specialists wish every primary care physician knew.” In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 81, no. 6, pp. 818-822. Elsevier, 2006.|