Nobody likes a sprained ankle, but there are ways to speed up the healing process.
Any athlete can tell you, a sprained ankle is no picnic. Every day in our country, 25,000 people sprain their ankle. Every year, 1 million people visit the ER because of sprains. Aside from fractures, sprains are the most common ankle injuries, especially in the world of sports.
To put it mildly, sprains aren’t the end of the world, but they can greatly impact your life, especially if you are an athlete. Obviously, the only thing we can do about this is limit the amount of down-time caused by a sprain. In order to do this, you really just have to follow a simple equation, called the ‘RICE’ method.
‘RICE’ stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate.
The first thing you should do is stay off your foot completely. Even if it doesn’t hurt that bad, putting any pressure on your sprained ankle can end up making it worse, and lengthening your recovery time.
Secondly, keep your ankle iced. The ice will constrict blood vessels to keep swelling down and help numb the pain. You should ice the sprain every 2-3 hours for 2-3 days, but never for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Third, you should compress the ankle with gauze or a brace. This will help control swelling and immobilize your ankle so you aren’t tempted to dance on it while it tries to heal.
Lastly, you should elevate your ankle. You can do this by propping it up on a pillow while you sleep. Keeping your foot at the level of your heart helps slow blood flow a bit to decrease pain and swelling.
While there is no specific time frame for the healing process of a sprained ankle, the ligaments themselves typically take about six weeks to fully recover. You may feel like you are back in fighting shape well before that, but it is always a good idea to exercise caution, especially when it comes to your ankles and feet.