Sprained Ankle: How to Avoid & How to Treat

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The anatomy of the human ankle is fascinating, complex, and perfectly structured to perform the movements and tasks we demand of it. It is composed of four major bones (tibia, fibula, talus, and calcaneus) all seamlessly interacting with each other enabling us to walk, run, jump, and dance without giving it a second thought-until we hurt ourselves. Because of the numerous bones and ligaments comprising the ankle, there are times when an injury cannot be avoided. There are many different causes and medical conditions that can result in ankle pain and a sprain is certainly one trauma that ranks high on the list.

The Medical Profession’s Definition of a Sprained Ankle

An ankle sprain is a common trauma affecting the musculoskeletal portion located between the leg and foot. This occurs when the ligaments attached to the ankle are partially or completely torn due to sudden impact or stretching. This condition typically occurs when a person suddenly “twists” their foot in a sports activity or by stepping off an uneven surface and landing abruptly. The pain of an ankle sprain is usually severe in the beginning and is often associated with a “popping” sensation. There can be immediate signs of swelling over the entire site of the injury as the injured blood vessels start leaking fluid into the surrounding tissue. If the ankle is partially torn, it still may retain some stability, whereas when a complete tear is sustained, the foot is more than likely to lose stability due to the fact that the strapping ligaments can no longer support the ankle joint. Ankle sprains require immediate treatment to minimize pain and increase your healing time. The following steps are recommended immediately after an injury has occurred:

Step #1: Common Sense Care

  • The moment you’re able, start by applying ice to the sprained or swollen area.
    • This is recommended for pain relief. Applying ice directly to the skin can be dangerous. Make sure you avoid pressing any super cold compresses or bags of ice directly against the skin for any length of time. The danger of burning your skin can be eliminated by wrap the ice cubes in a towel and then apply it to the painful part of your ankle for between 15 and 20 minutes at a time.
    • The application of ice should only be repeated every two or three hours.
    • Excessive cold for long periods of time can slow down the healing process by constricting blood vessels and slowing down the normal flow of blood.
  • Limit the amount of walking and avoid putting weight or stress on the injured ankle.
  • Elevate your leg to reduce the swelling.
  • Use crutches if necessary to avoid further damage or injury to the traumatized or torn ligaments.
  • Take anti-inflammatory meds to reduce local inflammation and alleviate pain.

Step #2: More Serious Injuries

  • If the injury is severe, it may require an immobilization cast or wearing an orthopedic shoe. Go to your nearest emergency room or orthopedic doctor for x-rays and treatment.
  • Prepare yourself for surgery in the event you have totally torn the ligament.
  • A physical therapy program may be required as part of the rehabilitation process, incorporating various strengthening exercises designed for helping the lower leg muscles heal. If you should have to have physical therapy, discuss the following issues with your therapist:
    • In what ways will this therapy re-establish or increase a healthy blood flow consisting of vital immune cells and nutrients “into” the affected area.
    • Can I expect to have scar tissue as a result of this injury? If so, are there physical therapy techniques to prevent this from occurring?
    • Can I expect to fully recover from this incident? Please explain how physical therapy can help me regain my:
      • Normal strength
      • Stability
      • Full range of motion

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Approximately 25,000 ankle sprains occur every day in the United States. Most of these traumas occur during athletic events, ankle sprains may also occur during common, everyday activities like simply walking and going about typical daily activities. The normal recovery time for the majority of these types of injuries is around four to eight weeks, but some lingering issues can be seen for as long as a year post-injury.


How to Stop Ankle Sprains from Recurring

Prevention Power Easily Explained
It’s a well-known fact that people who have experienced a sprained ankle are the most likely to sprain it again (and again and again). If this sounds like you, don’t give up or give in. Help is on the way:

Step #1: Focus on Balance

  • A useful way to avoid painful ankle sprains and those which may occur in the future is to improve your balance. This can keep you from tripping or rolling your ankle and will help strengthen your ankles overall.

Step #2: Balance and Eyesight

  • There are easy and effective techniques you can do that will help improve your balance and prevent injuries at the same time. Practice the following techniques as needed:
    • Begin by balancing on one foot while going about everyday activities such as washing dishes, or even while watching TV.
    • Physical therapy can also be very useful for those who are suffering from more serious conditions and do not find at home strategies to be effective enough.

Step #3: Strengthening Your Core

  • If your core is weak, you will need to strengthen it in order to properly support your torso as well as your hips. Having strong hip control is essential in order to prevent sprained or rolled ankles, as it will help keep your weight from shifting too far when you take a step.

Step #4: Strong Ankles

  • Increasing your strength is a very effective way to prevent injury now and in the future.
    • You can do this by doing leg exercises such as squats, dips, lunges, and resistance band workouts designed for improving lower body strength.
    • A strong foundation will allow you to stay balanced and monitor any changes in your body’s position.

Step #5: Increased Flexibility

  • It is extremely important to have a good balance between both your strength and your flexibility.
    • Start by doing a few simple stretches after a brief warm-up period. By doing this routine you will help minimize discomfort as well as increase the flexibility of the leg.

Step #6: Be Physically Prepared for Your Future

  • Think about your past, present, and future. Have you always been actively involved in sports? If you have you know preparation, training, and diet are the most important things to focus on. Athletic training that imitates the sport you’re playing can be one of the best forms of preparing your body for competition or exercise.
    • As muscle memory can play a role in sprains, holding practice sessions having similar moves to your primary activity can prevent injury.


Step #7: Tapes and Braces

  • Learn how to correctly wrap or brace your ankles as a proactive strategy in preventing sprain and injury.
    • Foot braces and taping help tremendously in supporting the foot during strenuous activity.
  • Highly rated ankle braces include:
    • Liomor Ankle Support is for running, basketball and ankle sprain. Information about this product:
      • This extra strong ankle support is fitted with reinforcing straps. It is designed to support and stabilize your joints.
        • Made to decrease the risk of injury especially during more strenuous activities. It will also help to relieve swelling and signs associated with small injuries such as ankle sprains and arthritis.
        • It is constructed of high-elastic combined with moisture wicking material. The perforated design allows oxygen to circulate eliminating odor and preventing bacteria from breeding.
        • The open heel design allows you to move easily during activity while providing support for the foot, tendons, and joints.
        • The adjustable straps, which allow for various requirements and ankle diameters. Ideal for foot support when recently injured or when playing soccer, basketball, running, or training.
    • Med Spec ASO Ankle Stabilizer Stabilizing Straps form complete figure-eight to protect and support the ankle. Additional features include:
      • ballistic nylon which provides excellent strength and durability
      • Elastic cuff closure offers support and ensures the laces and stabilizing straps secure
      • Bilateral design so each size will fit left or right foot; Low profile to fit in any type of shoe
    • Best Copper Infused Compression Ankle Brace.
      • Recommended for relief caused by plantar fasciitis, foot pain, Achilles Tendon pain relief. Additional features include:
      • Prevents and supports persons suffering from foot injuries and soreness.
      • Relieves foot pain using a foot sleeve and compression.
      • Recommended as support for runners, exercising, and normal day to day activities.
      • This product is an FDA registered.
      • Helps prevent injuries and aids in faster healing.


Ankle sprains seem to happen in everybody’s life at one time or another. After all, the ankle’s role is to adapt to the variations in the ground, accommodate sudden turns and support the feet and legs at the same time. Ankle sprains become serious between the ages of 13 and 30. This is also when most injuries start recurring. One recent study discovered that more than 70% of people with this condition reported problems with their ankles as much as a year and a half after the trauma occurred. Though they may not seem serious at the time, sprains should not be ignored or treated casually as they just become unstable and more vulnerable in the future.

Do It Yourself Compression Wraps

Decrease Swelling – Increase Support

A compression wrap is a very effective home remedy used to prevent and/or reduce swelling. When done correctly, a compression wrap should help reduce pain helping you feel better. It is not intended to support the ankle or prevent it from moving, so it will not protect it. Wearing a compression wrap is also an excellent reminder to take it easy. The steps for doing your own compression wrap are listed below:

wrapping instructions

Step #1: Prepare Your Bandage

  • Begin by rolling up the elastic bandage you are going to use. Hold your foot as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Start where your toes are joined to the body of your foot. Holding the loose end of the bandage at the side of your foot, start wrapping the bandage around the ball of your foot once, keeping it slightly taut with a light pull.

Step #2: Wrapping the Foot

  • Once you’ve got your first wrap completed, slowly start wrapping the bandage around the arch of the foot. Pulling the bandage slowly and diagonally from the bottom of the toes across the top of the foot and circling it around the ankle. Make sure you’re not pulling so tight as to cut off your circulation. Now start wrapping in a figure-eight pattern by bringing the bandage diagonally across the top of the foot and under the arch.

Step #3: Wrapping the Bandage

  • When you get to the ankle bone, proceed by wrapping the bandage around the felt piece which should be placed so it remains under the ankle bone. Continue wrapping the ankle and foot in a figure-eight, moving toward the heel on the bottom of the foot and toward the calf at the top of the eight.

Step #4: Finishing the Wrapping Process

  • Your wrap should be covering the entire foot and end about 7 centimeters above the ankle by the time you’ve run out of bandage. Most compression wraps are made to self-fasten or come with clip style fasteners. If not, use a reliable tape to secure the end. The wrap should feel snug but not tight or uncomfortable. Re-wrap your foot if you feel pain, see discoloration of the skin or experience numbness.


If any of these instructions are confusing or hard to follow, there are plenty of videos online where you can watch how ankle wrapping is done. Ask a friend to help you if necessary and keep your foot elevated so you’re not wrapping a swollen foot.

Considering all the wear and tear our bodies endure in the course of a lifetime, a sprained ankle should not ever be disregarded just because it isn’t life-threatening. There are many other medical reasons for investigating ankle pain. If you find that you are suffering from chronic pain, inflammation, warmth, stiffness or swelling in that area contact your doctor as soon as possible. Finally, let’s consider the shoes we are wearing during certain activities and sports. No one should be wearing high heels to walk their dog, at the beach, in wet sand, why you could sprain your ankle!



  1. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/anatomy/ankle-anatomy Ankle Anatomy article
  2. https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/ankle-pain
  3. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=24348
  4. http://dailynaturalremedies.com/11-natural-remedies-for-a-sprained-ankle/utm_source=sprained%20ankle&utm_medium=sprainedankle&utm_campaign=bing
  5. https://hemanklerehab.com/utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=HEM&msclkid=14ed6065631411698d7e3aba1aba8db6
  6. https://www.athletico.com/2016/11/29/6-ways-prevent-ankle-sprains/ November 29, 2016 Adam Muehl