Ankle Sprains: Healing and Preventing Injury

Ankle Sprains Healing and Preventing Injury
Ankle Sprains Healing and Preventing Injury

A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments connect one bone to another bone at a joint and help keep them in place. One common area that gets affected is the ankle. A sprained ankle means one or more ligaments on the outer side of your ankle were stretched or torn.

Ankle sprains commonly occur during sports activities or while walking or running on an uneven surface. If a sprain is not treated properly, you could have long-term problems.


What Are The Signs Of An Ankle Sprain?

The severity of a sprain is graded according to how badly the ligament has been stretched and whether or not the ankle joint has been made unstable. If the sprain is mild, there may not be much pain or swelling and the ligaments may only be stretched. If the sprain is severe, one of more ligaments may be torn and the joint may be severely swollen. A severe sprain can also be extremely painful. Some of the common symptoms of an ankle injury include:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Coldness or numbness in the foot
  • Inability to walk or bear weight on the joint
  • Stiffness1

Preventing Ankle Injury

It is always better to be cautious and avoid injuries. Here are some things you can do to help prevent a sprained ankle:

  • Warm up before you exercise or play sports – Lightly stretch or do a slow jog for two to three minutes to warm up the muscles before you exercise or play sports.
  • Be careful when walking or running on an uneven surface – Try to be careful on rocky terrain or hills with loose gravel. Holes, tree stumps and roots are problems if you are trail running. Try to pick a good surface if possible.
  • Wear shoes that fit well – People whose feet pronate ( the inward roll of the foot) or who have low arches, should choose shoes that provide support, in both the front of the shoe and under the arch. The heel and heel counter (back of the shoe) should be very stable to prevent ankle injury.
  • Don’t wear high-heeled shoes – It is best to avoid wearing high heeled shoes, as it may cause various foot and ankle injuries.
  • Condition your muscles for the sport – The amount of time spent on any activity should be increased gradually over a period of weeks to build both muscle strength and mobility.
  • Be careful – Running uphill is a great workout, but make sure you gradually build this up to avoid injuries. Be careful when running downhill too fast, which can often lead to more injuries than running uphills.
  • Prevent recurrent injuries – Athletes who have experienced ankle injuries previously may benefit from using a brace or tape to prevent any further injuries.

Lifestyle Changes To Treat Ankle Injuries

The R.I.C.E. Approach

  • Rest – Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort.
  • Ice – Use an ice pack or a slush bath immediately for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat every two to three hours while you’re awake. Note – Applying ice on your ankle can be very helpful, but you also need to be careful. The cold can damage nerves if the ice is left in place too long. Ice can be left on your ankle for up to 20 minutes at a time. When your skin feels numb, it’s time to remove the ice.
  • Compression – To stop swelling, compress the ankle with an elastic bandage, until the swelling stops. Don’t hinder circulation by wrapping it too tight.
  • Elevation – To reduce swelling, elevate your ankle above the level of your heart, especially at night. Gravity helps reduce swelling by draining excess fluid.2

Try preventing ankle injuries by altering your lifestyle and being cautious. However, sprains are common, and it normally heals by itself if the injury is mild. However, if it hurts too much to put any weight on the ankle and you can’t walk, seek treatment immediately.