Since ankle sprains are a very common injury, i thought i’d summarize some of the things i’ve found researching a healing and prevention program. Please note that i don’t have a background in health or fitness, so this comes with the usual disclaimer: When in doubt, please ask a health care provider, such as your doctor or a physical therapist.
The very first thing you gotta do, is rice the injury! That’s rest, icing, compression, and elevation. (Elevating your legs while sitting is a great thing to do no matter what, actually). Right after my injury (well, okay, after i hobbled home…), i applied ice for 20 minutes twice with a 30 minute break in between.
Rehabilitation is a bit trickier, i found. According to Consumer Reports, it’s best to start using the ankle again as soon as you can:
You shouldn’t move so much that it hurts a lot. Try doing a little bit more each day. Getting moving early on with an ankle support should help you get back to normal faster than resting with your foot in a plaster cast. […] The research shows that it doesn’t seem to make much difference whether you have an elastic bandage, tape, a lace-up support or a stiffer ankle support.
So, rest the ankle for 48-72 hours as much as you can and then get moving again – making sure to support the ankle in some way (instructions on how to tape are here). Now, use caution! Obviously, you don’t want to run a marathon 4 days after you sprained your ankle! But walking around is a good idea and also starting some basic exercises to ensure mobility are called for (scroll down about half-way to “Exercises for sprained ankle rehabilitation”).
If you know of any other good exercises for strengthening the ankles, especially once you’ve used to successfully prevent respraining your ankles, please share in the comments!