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How to fix an ankle sprain

When you are trying to rehabilitate any injury it is important to understand how an injury heals. To review this check out our blog post called, “The healing Process Simplified”.

Step 1 – Reduce Pain

Our first goal is to get rid of the pain and avoid anything that causes more pain. This means if walking hurts you’ll need a boot or crutches. To help reduce pain you can use ice for the first three days. Ice can be applied directly to the skin for 30 minutes every 90 minutes. If you are using a gel pack it is usually colder than ice and you’ll need to reduce the time and make sure there is a cloth between the pack and your skin.

A few other ways to reduce pain is photobiomodulation, ankle adjustment, muscle stimulation, and joint pumps.

Step 2 – Regain Motion

We need to get your ankle moving normal again. Now this does not necessarily mean stretching. Sometimes stretching causes pain early on in the healing process. Most of the motion will be regained once you get the swelling in control. To get you swelling in control follow the POLICE principle.

Protect – Avoid making the injury worse. Wear a brace, use crutches, or avoid activities that would make it worse.

Optimal Loading – Rest does not mean we completely stop, we want to figure out how much you can still do without making the injury worse. If you have a sprained ankle and you can still walk, then continue walking. Figure out a slow and steady way to adapt you injury back to normalcy.

Ice – Only useful within the first 2-3 days of the injury. You can use ice for 30 minutes every 90 minutes. You can put it directly on the skin if it is true ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Gel packs tend to be colder so don’t put them directly on the skin.

Compression – Most useful at night. Use a compression sleep or ace wrap bandage to move swelling away from the injury. Only useful if there is swelling.

Elevation – If you are very swollen, getting your injury up above the heart can help get rid of swelling. Do this whenever you are stationary like at night.

Occasionally you well get a talus dysfunction which will inhibit your motion. A quick adjustment can correct this quickly and help you feel better sooner.

Step 3 – Regain Strength

Usually you will want to start with isometric exercises. This allows you to strengthen the ankle at different angles without causing too much injury. If there is no pain you can do exercises with movement. Doing the ABC’s with you ankle, doing band work in different directions, and doing half squats are a few ideas you can start doing. Make sure there is no pain!

Another place you need strengthen is your hip. When you get injured your body does something called muscle guarding. It will over-activate certain muscles while deactivating others. When you get an ankle sprain your hip is an area that will be deactivated. Doing glute exercises can quickly reactivate your hips.

Step 4 – Proprioceptive Training

When you injure your ankle it will become unstable. It does this because of muscle guarding, pain, weakness, and a disruption to your mind-body connection. Through proprioceptive training you can improve stability and balance and get you ready for full training. Much of this training is about balancing while doing certain tasks. 

Step 5 – Return to Function

From here you want figure out what you need to do to get back to normal. If you are a runner you’ll need to figure out what part of your gait hurts you ankle and train that motion. During this period there is a lot of trial and error as you figure out what you ankle can handle. 

Like always let us know how we can help you!

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