How Long Does it Take to Heal a Sprained Ankle?

There are a few simple things you need to know in order to determine how long it will take to heal a sprained ankle. The first and most important thing you need to know is… do you have a fracture or a regular type of ankle sprain?

The only way to know that for sure is to get an x-ray. They will immediately be able to tell you if there is a break. Sometimes, there can be a hair-line fracture, which you would never know without an x-ray. So, we always recommend starting there, if you have any concerns about the severity of the injury whatsoever.

Remember, if you have a fracture, you need to immobilize the ankle join until it heals. Most of the time, fortunately, it will not be a fracture and instead, just a regular ankle sprain. If that’s the case, that’s great news, because it means your healing time should be much shorter and easier…

At that point, ask yourself the second question… what type of grade is the sprain? There are 3 grades, (1, 2 and 3) and they will determine the amount of time it takes to heal.

Basically, grade 1 is pretty minor and grade 3 can be a full rupture of the tendons. Obviously, if you have a grade 1 sprain, you should be walking again without much pain within a few days or weeks, depending on how you heal the injury. But, a grade 3 sprain could mean months of healing time, especially if you do not do the right things to heal your ankle.

Here is the most important thing to remember… the amount of time it takes to heal a sprained ankle depends ENTIRELY on what you do to heal it. If you just lay around and wait for rest and ice to heal your ankle, it will take significantly longer to heal. And, it will not heal very well… the ankle will continue to be stiff, weak and unstable for months or even years to come.

Studies have shown that up to 30% of people never fully recover from even just one sprained ankle and take an average of thousands of LESS steps a day for the rest of their lives (Evid Based Med 2008; 13 (6):187. Margo KL., New York Times, 2015. Don’t Just Walk Off a Sprain. Reynolds G.).

So, people end up wearing ankle braces tape or wraps anytime they play sports. Their ankles just keep getting weaker and usually sprains again and/or puts them at a high risk for an injury further up the kinetic chain (knee, hip or low back injury).

I wrote a long article with lots of studies to back up the reasons why I am not a fan of using rest & ice for a sprained ankle. I highly recommend checking it out, so you can learn why this is NOT the best healing strategy for a sprained ankle… click here >>

Instead of rest and ice, a good ankle rehab program (like HEM Ankle Rehab, which you can do entirely at home), helps your ankle heal MUCH FASTER & BETTER. The typical healing time is dramatically faster and protects your ankle from any further injury naturally, without ankle braces, etc…

Plus, your ankle will be stronger and more stable than it was pre-injury. The good news is that ankle rehab is easy and fast to do, but super important for speeding up the healing process and ensuring you fully heal.

So, in order to help determine how long it will take to heal a sprained, you need to know:

  1. How serious is your injury (fracture, grade 1, 2 or 3…)
  2. You need to understand how different healing strategies will either prolong or shorten the healing time.

Here is a quick breakdown of each grade along with the average healing time.

Grade 1 Ankle Sprain

With a grade 1 ankle sprain, your ligaments got stretched a little too far, and even if they tore a little bit, but the damage will be minimal.  The pain and swelling will be somewhat apparent, however, it will not be terribly bad. You can also expect some bruising, especially after a few days.

Just be aware that even with a grade 1 sprain, if you rely on rest and ice, it can still continue to bother you for many months or years, since the ankle will never fully recover its natural strength, stability and healthy range of motion. In order to do that, you need a good ankle rehab program even for a grade 1 sprain.

Healing time with rest & ice healing protocol: 2-3 weeks (ankle may continue to be stiff, weak and unstable for months or years)

Healing time with HEM Ankle Rehab protocol: 3-5 days (ankle will be strong, stable and healthy range of motion – average healing time based off 100,000 plus people who have used HEM)

Grade 2 Ankle Sprain

A grade 2 ankle sprain is a big step up in terms of the damage to your ankle… you will feel pretty unstable and walking will be painful. Most likely, you will feel some shooting pains every time you take a step. Bruising, pain and swelling will be much more significant.

You definitely want to take things slow and watch every step to avoid any further injury or aggravation of the ankle joint. Obviously, with more damage, it becomes even more important to do a good ankle rehab program to fully recover.

Healing time with rest & ice healing protocol: 2-3 months (ankle may continue to be stiff, weak and unstable for months or years)

Healing time with HEM Ankle Rehab protocol: 5-10 days (ankle will be strong, stable and healthy range of motion – average healing time based off 100,000 plus people who have used HEM)

Grade 3 Ankle Sprain

A grade 3 ankle sprain is the most serious kind of ankle sprains. Most likely, your ligaments completely tore or ruptured and you will find that your ankle joint is incredibly unstable. Obviously, you are going to have a lot of pain, swelling and bruising. You definitely need an x-ray to rule out a fracture or any other damage in the area. With a grade three sprain, you may need crutches, since you won’t be able to put any pressure on your foot for a little while.

With a grade 2 or 3 sprain, ankle rehab is absolutely required to fully heal. Without it, the healing time is dramatically longer and the risk is very HIGH the ankle will NEVER fully recover to what it was pre-injury, putting you at a very high risk or re-injury and considerably weakened and unstable ankles for life.

Healing time with rest & ice healing protocol: 3-6 months (ankle may continue to be stiff, weak and unstable for months or years)

Healing time with HEM Ankle Rehab protocol: 7-10 days (ankle will be strong, stable and healthy range of motion – average healing time based off 100,000 plus people who have used HEM)

Heal a Sprained Ankle FASTER & BETTER

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. I 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.

HEM  dramatically improves the quality and speed of the healing process by supporting and improving the body’s natural response to an injury. You can expect a significant improvement in healthy range of motion in the ankles, feet and calves… you can expect much more strength and stability in the ankles… and you can expect improved overall movement (balance, agility, speed, jumping, etc.).