How To Fix A Sprained Ankle

August 31, 2020

So there is a strong chance if you are reading this blog then you have recently sprained your ankle! If so then you have come to the right place, and yes, before we begin, it’s a very painful thing to do so you have our deepest sympathies.

The good news is that if managed properly, you can recover quite quickly from these type of injuries and get back to doing kick-flips on your skateboard, or playing football with your friends in no time.

How did it happen?

Ankle sprains occur when the outside of the foot is forced down and under the foot. This stretches the ligaments supporting the outside of the ankle.

In normal day to day activity most people sprain their ankle by stepping down or slipping from the edge of a kerb. In sporting situations, its usually when you change direction quickly and your ankle folds under you as your body weight shifts over the outside of the foot. The injury is most commonly found with the Anterior Talofibular Ligament although the Calcaneofibular Ligament can be injured also.

You will usually feel a sharp pain and often a popping sound or feeling. This is followed soon after by a sensation of the ankle swelling up and a pressure building around the ankle joint. Sometimes, there might be bruising around the ankle. It’s quite an unpleasant experience and can sometimes feel like the ankle is going to explode!

I’ve gone over on my ankle what should I do next?

Firstly you should look to see if there is any visible deformity to the ankle or foot. Compare how it looks with your uninjured side. If there is a difference, then you need to be seen at the hospital as there is a strong likelihood that you have a fracture.

If this is the case, keep your ankle still, and avoid walking on it. Someone with first-aid experience can try to splint it in place until you get assessed at the hospital.

If there are no obvious deformities, then try to see if you can move your ankle around.

If you can, then that’s good news. Next, try taking a few steps on your injured ankle – walking on tip-toes or your heels is acceptable. You might need help but if you can do this, then we can be pretty confident that there isn’t a fracture. If you are unable to put any weight through your foot, then it will be wise to get yourself seen at the hospital.

*Fractures sometimes happen in the same manner as an ankle sprain so it is incorrect to assume every ankle injury is an ankle sprain. When in doubt, consult a qualified health professional.

The next thing you should try to follow is the POLICE guidelines.

P – Protect

Protect the ankle from further injury. This means that you stop the movements that makes the pain worse for the next few days at least. You can expect things to calm down and start feeling better within the next 72 hours. 

OL – Optimal Loading

Once the pain and swelling has settled down a bit, you will need to start gradually loading the ankle. This is because complete rest or immobilization does not help ligament injuries to heal quicker, and in fact, might slow down the recovery process.

A simple way to do this is to make sure you walk with a normal heel-toe walking pattern as much as you can tolerate and avoid limping on tip-toes or the heel.

Additionally, follow this set of basic range of motion exercises to help return ankle’s mobility to normal. Do these 4 times per day for 3 sets of 10-20 reps as able.

1. Point your toes and ankle up towards you and then point them away 

2. Turn the sole of the foot inwards and then turn it outwards

3. Rotate your foot clockwise and then in a counter-clockwise direction

4. Knee to wall stretch – see the exercises below

*Some discomfort and stiffness is expected. If these exercises causes significant and lingering pain, stop and consult a qualifed health professional.

– Ice

Ice the painful area for 10-20 minutes several times per day for the first few days. This is to help with pain and control inflammation. You can stop when the pain settles.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

C – Compression

Compression devices such as tubigrips will help support the ankle and minimise the inflammation. Take them out if you feel your feet or toes become numb and tingly – this indicates that circulation is compromised. As a rule, don’t wear the compression garment or tubigrip whilst you sleep to avoid affecting blood circulation.

E – Elevation

In the first few days of the injury, try to keep your ankle above your hip whenever you are not moving about. You can place a few pillows or towels under your lower leg. This will help limit the swelling in the ankle. Often placing a few pillows under your lower leg is ideal.

Its starting to feel better, what do I do now?

After around 7-10 days the ankle should start to feel quite a bit better. At this stage, we need to start loading the ankle with more specific exercises to restore the function of the stabilising muscles and balance sensors. This is to minimise the risk of a recurrent sprain in the future.

Here are some exercises you can try. Follow the instructions in the descriptions.

  1. Ankle knee to wall dorsiflexion.
View this post on Instagram

𝐀𝐍𝐊𝐋𝐄 𝐏𝐀𝐈𝐍 𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐒⁣ ⁣ 𝘈𝘯𝘬𝘭𝘦 𝘋𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘪𝘧𝘭𝘦𝘹𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘚𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘤𝘩 ⁣ ⁣ We see a lot of ankle injuries in our clinic 📈 We guess that this is because a lot of our patients come to us from playing sport, but whether it’s from a sprained ankle ligament or an achilles tendon injury they all benefit from this basic yet simple exercise to restore dorsiflexion range. ⁣ ⁣ In terms of setting it up, place your great toe up against the skirting board. Keep your heel on the ground, and then drive your knee towards the wall. If you can touch the wall comfortably then slide your foot back an inch or two and repeat. Once you get to a point where you cannot reach the wall without your heel lifting from the floor then this is the ideal range to practice in. ⁣ ⁣ Either perform it for;⁣ ⁣ 1️⃣ 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions ⁣ ⁣ 2️⃣ 3 sets of 30 seconds static hold⁣ ⁣ This exercise shouldn’t really flare your symptoms but if it does then stop ✋🏻 and drop us a DM for help 🆘⁣ ⁣ Give it a shot and tag anyone with a sore ankle.⁣ ⁣ ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖⁣⁣⁣ 📲 Book by phone on 01324 227 370⠀⁣⁣⁣ 🌏 Book online at espphysio.com⠀⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Proud to support 🌐 ⁣⁣⁣ @stevenraymma ⁣⁣⁣ @dannyhenrymma ⁣⁣⁣ @tomstoltman⁣⁣⁣ @luke.stoltman⁣ @the_problem155⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Affiliates 🌐 ⁣⁣⁣ @pulseroll – £10 off using code ESPPhysio10 ⁣⁣⁣ @stirlingcounty⁣ ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #physiotherapy #physio #physioglasgow #physiostirling #physioedinburgh #physiofalkirk #espphysio #achillestendon #achillestendonitis #anklesprain #anklepain #physioadvice #physiomobility #physioexercises #bettermobility #reduceinjuryrisk #espphysio #physioblog #footballinjuries⁣

A post shared by ESP Physio (@espphysio) on

2. Single Leg Heel Raise

View this post on Instagram

𝐀𝐍𝐊𝐋𝐄 𝐏𝐀𝐈𝐍 𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐒 𝘈𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘛𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘰𝘯 𝘓𝘰𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 Following on from our ankle dorsiflexion streWe see a lot of ankle injuries in our clinic 📈 We guess that this is because a lot of our patients come to us from playing sport, but whether it’s from a sprained ankle ligament or an achilles tendon injury they all benefit from this basic yet simple exercises to restore dorsiflexion range. In terms of setting it up, place your great toe up against the skirting board. Keep your heel on the ground, and then drive your knee towards the wall. If you can touch the wall comfortably then slide your foot back an inch or two and repeat. Once you get to a point where you cannot reach the wall without your heel lifting from the floor then this is the ideal range to practice in. Either perform it for; 1️⃣ 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions 2️⃣ 3 sets of 30 seconds static hold This exercise shouldn’t really flare your symptoms but if it does then stop ✋🏻 and drop us a DM for help 🆘 Give it a shot and tag anyone with a sore ankle. ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖⁣⁣ 📲 Book by phone on 01324 227 370⠀⁣⁣ 🌏 Book online at espphysio.com⠀⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Proud to support 🌐 ⁣⁣ @stevenraymma ⁣⁣ @dannyhenrymma ⁣⁣ @tomstoltman⁣⁣ @luke.stoltman @the_problem155 ⁣⁣ Affiliates 🌐 ⁣⁣ @pulseroll – £10 off using code ESPPhysio10 ⁣⁣ @stirlingcounty ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #physiotherapy #physio #physioglasgow #physiostirling #physioedinburgh #physiofalkirk #espphysio #achillestendon #achillestendonitis #anklesprain #anklepain #physioadvice #physiomobility #physioexercises #bettermobility #reduceinjuryrisk #espphysio #physioblog #footballinjuries

A post shared by ESP Physio (@espphysio) on

3. Single Leg Balance

View this post on Instagram

𝐀𝐍𝐊𝐋𝐄 𝐏𝐀𝐈𝐍 𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐒⁣ ⁣ 𝘈𝘯𝘬𝘭𝘦 𝘚𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘓𝘦𝘨 𝘉𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 ⁣ ⁣ One of the problems with recovering from an ankle sprain is that in some cases the injury re-occurs 😱 The patients we see with chronic ankle sprains often describe going over the ankle several times, and losing confidence in the ankle from a wide range of tasks such as walking in high heeled shoes 👠 or changing direction on the court playing badminton 🏸⁣ ⁣ This exercise will re-train the ankle proprioception, which will essentially waken the sensory receptors in the ankle, and help stop you from going over on the ankle again. ⁣ ⁣ Either perform it for;⁣ ⁣ 1️⃣ 3 sets of 30-60 seconds as a static hold⁣ ⁣ Or if that’s getting easy then…⁣ ⁣ 2️⃣ 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions of a single leg calf raise⁣ ⁣ This exercise shouldn’t really flare your symptoms but if it does then stop ✋🏻 and drop us a DM for help 🆘⁣ ⁣ Give it a shot and tag anyone with a sore ankle.⁣ ⁣ ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖⁣⁣⁣ 📲 Book by phone on 01324 227 370⠀⁣⁣⁣ 🌏 Book online at espphysio.com⠀⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Proud to support 🌐 ⁣⁣⁣ @stevenraymma ⁣⁣⁣ @dannyhenrymma ⁣⁣⁣ @tomstoltman⁣⁣⁣ @luke.stoltman⁣ @the_problem155⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Affiliates 🌐 ⁣⁣⁣ @pulseroll – £10 off using code ESPPhysio10 ⁣⁣⁣ @stirlingcounty⁣ ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #physiotherapy #physio #physioglasgow #physiostirling #physioedinburgh #physiofalkirk #espphysio #achillestendon #achillestendonitis #anklesprain #anklepain #physioadvice #physiomobility #physioexercises #bettermobility #reduceinjuryrisk #espphysio #physioblog #footballinjuries⁣

A post shared by ESP Physio (@espphysio) on

For the most part, these exercises should be sufficient to get your ankle to where it needs to be for your day to day needs. But if you have been more active pre-injury, it is a good idea to continue with further rehabilitation to meet the demands of your sport – the demands of a footballer and skateboarder are very different!

At ESP Physio, we perform a detailed assessment to identify any issues after your injury. We will design a customised treatment plan involving both hands-on work and rehabilitative exercises to get you back on track.

If you would like to make an appointment (or if you just want to speak to us), give us a phone at 01324 227 370 or drop us an email at info@espphysio.com.

Written by Lewis Mitchell and Andrew Linn

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT WITH ESP PHYSIO TODAY

BOOK NOW