A Sprained Ankle : The Facts
What are sprained ankles?
A sprained ankle is the most common sports related injury. There are over 25,000 sprained ankles a day. Why do they happen so often? Unfortunately, it is because most of us have very weak, stiff and unstable ankles… and most of the time, we don’t realize it until it’s too late.
An ankle sprain occurs when we walk, run or jump, and the ankle twists in an awkward way which stretches, tears or ruptures the ligaments. Sometimes it happens on the inside part of the ankle, but usually on the outside of the ankle. It can happen right around the ankle joint or a little higher up the leg. The ankle usually swells up, bruising is common and it will probably be painful, perhaps even to the point of being hard to put any pressure on the foot for days, weeks or even months.
The following factors increase your risks significantly…
- weak ankles
- old ankle injuries
- stiff ankles
- unstable ankles
- inflexible shoes
If you have weak ankles and you walk on uneven ground or play sports (where you are forced to move diagonally and laterally in a powerful way), it doesn’t take much to twist an ankle beyond its normal range of motion and a sprained ankle is the result.
So, the best way to lower your risk of a sprained ankle is to ensure your ankles have healthy range of motion as well as naturally good strength and stability. This way, you can move naturally and even if your ankle twists, the ligaments will be more protected from a tear or rupture. We are huge proponents of NOT using ankle braces, so the goal is to be able to do this naturally.
The next step is to learn how to heal that sprained ankle and this is really important, since up to 1 in 3 people have ankle pain 1 year after a sprain. In fact, the NY Times recently reported that just one sprained ankle can lead to taking 2,000 LESS steps a day, for the rest of your life. (Don’t Just Walk Off a Sprain, Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times, September 9, 2015).
So, it’s very important to learn what to do and what not to do… We want you to fully recover from that sprained ankle, so you can get back to your life and the things you love to do without ANY limitation.
Sprained ankle myths
Here’s where it starts to get interesting… The most common myth about healing a sprained ankle is to use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). People believe that if they just put their ankle up and ice it for a while, everything will be fine in a week or two. There are many reasons why this strategy backfires. For example, it has been shown in numerous studies that rest and ice actually delays the healing process and in many cases, causes the ankle injury to linger for months or even years.
The problem is that ice and rest do not actually heal the damage from the injury. So, the ankles stay weak, unstable and stiff for a very long time and this dramatically raises the risk of many more sprained ankles. We wrote a long article on ice and rest, so if you’d like to learn more, please click here…
Then, if your ankle heals badly, it can cause all kinds of other problems, including knee, hip and low back pain. Why? When you change how you walk and run, because the ankle is stiff and weak, it affects all the other joints above it. Think about all your body weight and the pressure that puts on your ankles and feet for every step you take a day (between 2,000 – 10,000 a day on average). So, for example, it is very common for people with a badly healed sprained ankle to start experiencing a nagging knee pain very quickly! Please keep in mind there are much better options to heal sprained ankles and we will cover them below…
How to heal a sprained ankle
The first thing you should do is get an x-ray. You want to make sure it’s just a sprain, instead of a fracture. If there is a fracture in the ankle, you will need to immobilize it until the break heals. If it’s not a fracture, then you should be okay to begin a healing program right away, no matter if it is a grade 1 (least severe) or a grade 3 sprain (most severe). But, if you have any questions or concerns, please speak with your doctor before beginning any new treatment program.
So, let’s assume you just have a sprain… what really works the best? Well, as it turns out, the best way to heal a sprained ankle is by following a good ankle rehab program. That doesn’t mean you cannot rest the ankle too! You can and should… But, instead of just sitting around and waiting for your ankle to heal itself (it won’t), you will be actively, gently and safely improving strength, stability and healthy range of motion over the course of a week or two after the injury.
As it turns out, the body much prefers a little movement and strengthening vs. pure rest. And there are other great strategies too. One of the most important is improving healthy circulation, so powerful immune cells can activate and help you heal much faster. In other words, there are key components to a good ankle rehab program that are very holistic and help the body’s natural healing response.
As the days go on, you will feel significantly better and pretty soon, your ankle will have no pain or limitation. And the best part? You won’t need ankle tape, braces or wraps. And your risk of re-injury will be significantly lower too!
HEM Ankle Rehab
HEM Ankle Rehab is a complete ankle healing system that works for any new ankle sprain as well as all other types of ankle, foot and calf injuries. We designed HEM to ensure it is safe and easy to do for people of all ages and activity levels. HEM ensures you will be able to move pain free while also significantly reducing the risk of future injury.
You can do HEM at home, without any equipment and it only takes a few minutes a day. Just follow along with the easy step by step videos or ebook (you get both) on any device.