Sprained ankle

A sprained ankle means that you have over stretched or torn one or all of the ligaments on the outside of your ankle.

Ligaments are rather like tough elastic bands. Their job is to stop the joint from being moved too far. They have a poor blood supply and therefore heal slowly.

General treatment advice

In the first 24-48hrs:- Put ice on it for 15-20 mins ,3 times a day When using ice, the best way is to use ice cube bags. Wet a tea towel or piece of kitchen towel and put that around the ankle first, followed by the ice. Wrap the whole lot with a dry towel and elevate the leg so that the foot is higher than the knee. Whilst the ice is on try some gentle movements up and down of the ankle. The purpose of ice is to get rid of swelling.

A severely sprained ankle needs more support than tubigrip in the early stages. Seek the advice of a physiotherapist to get it strapped up properly. This will allow you to begin to walk on it earlier and more comfortably and give a much better result in the long term.

General exercises

  • As soon as possible you should begin to practice pulling your foot up and out, so that the muscles on the side of your shin begin to work hard. Do this sitting down!
  • Practice putting more and more weight onto the leg until you can fully weightbare on that leg. alone. Then stand on one leg at any odd moment during the day e.g cleaning your teeth etc
  • Try to walk as normally as possible putting the heel down and pushing off with the toes.
  • Walking on your heels is a good exercise to help strengthen the lower leg muscles
  • Within 2 to 4 weeks after the injury you should be able to try hopping. Initially do this on the spot, but when this is easy, try hopping in a figure of eight or in a square.

Guidelines for resuming sport

  1. It should be possible to stretch the ankle in all directions without causing pain.
  2. Make sure you can run, stop and turn suddenly with no ill effects.
  3. You should be able to walk on your heels and your toes without difficulty.
  4. Walking on uneven ground should present no problem.

If you can do all of the above, it is probably alright to resume sport. If in doubt consult a chartered physiotherapist.

Read about more common conditions, or contact us to find out how we can help.