Hi, my name’s Bradley Barks.
I’m a fitness coach from Gilbert, Arizona – I’m here to help you treat and relieve your sprained ankle…
…in as little as a few days.
If you’ve suffered a sprained ankle recently or are experiencing on-going symptoms, I’d like to let you know you’re in the right place.
Stick with me and you’ll know exactly what to do to quickly heal your sprained ankle injury, step-by-step, without drugs or expensive physical therapy.
Over the past half-decade…
…I’ve built up an extensive amount of fitness knowledge and experience.
Any fitness subject I’ve been interested in tackling I’ve jumped right into by reading books, guides, reports, handbooks and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on – all in an effort to find exactly what works and why.
Once repeatable results have been discovered, that exact plan can then be formulated into a program with an extremely high success rate…
…so the benefits can be shared universally.
Through years of research, I found that a sprained ankle was no different – there’s a unique, effective strategy to follow, step-by-step, that can greatly accelerate the whole recovery process.
I’ve also consulted with more than a handful of therapists, surgeons and chiropractors, who have all had an influence on my experiences, recommendations, and – ultimately – the final guide I’ve put together with my good friend Paul Ruth.
So hang out with me for a while as I fill you in on how to start treating your sprained ankle from home right away – you owe it to yourself to understand how to heal fast so you can get back to what really matters in life…
…plus, it beats sitting on the couch being bored in pain, right?
Additionally, just so you know, there’s a “quick link” box to the upper-right of this page.
If you’re looking for a specific ankle sprain answer, finding the right section and clicking on it will take you lower on this page – otherwise, continue to read along and I’ll be covering everything in detail from here on out.
With that being said, let’s get started…
A sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries the human body sustains on a daily basis – with over 25,000 people a day spraining their ankle, there’s certainly no reason to feel alone.
They’re so common that many different names have developed over the years, including twisted ankle, rolled ankle, folded ankle, foot sprain, and a handful of other descriptive combinations.
Scientifically put, an ankle sprain is a soft tissue injury that affects the connective tissue, ligaments and muscles around your ankle – the ankle ligaments work extremely hard to keep your ankle joint stable and functioning normally throughout the day – unfortunately, they can only do so much.
Since ligaments are elastic, meaning they stretch to accommodate different ankle positions, this allows for the chance of abnormal movements or sudden twists to occur, which stretches the ligament past it’s set range, resulting in what we refer to as a sprained ankle.
A severe sprain may actually tear the injured ligaments, causing additional damage that may take longer to heal – we’ll talk more about the different types of sprained ankles a little later.
While some sprained ankles may seem unavoidable, most of the time there are a few underlying factors that contributed to the sprain occurring in the first place…
…a number of these are:
- limited ankle flexibility
- weak or tight surrounding muscles/tendons
- lack of proper warm-up or prior to activity
- weak or loose ligaments that support the ankle
- delayed off-balance response
Accidents can certainly still occur, even if you have the healthiest ankles possible.
However, once you’ve experienced a sprain, you’ll need to treat the ankle before regarding strength – these are two, very important phases of treating your sprained ankle quickly and effectively.
Delaying treatment or re-strengthening can lead to life-long complications and weakness, putting you at risk for future sprains and reoccurring down-time.
Sprained ankles are so prevalent that they can happen any time you’re simply moving – walking, jumping, jogging, sprinting – frankly, it doesn’t matter…
…all it takes is stepping down a curb, losing your balance for a split-second, or landing on someone else’s foot for the sprain to occur.
And when it comes to sports, any number of motions, movements, jumps, landings, cutbacks or changes-in-direction can result in a badly sprained ankle that could take you out of commission for months if you’re not careful.
Once you’ve experienced a sprained ankle, your body reacts almost instantly.
Along with pain, swelling and bruising, ankle weakness also makes up the most common symptoms of a typical ankle sprain.
The majority of the swelling will usually be centralized around the area that was most affected by the injury – bruising has a tendency to move around as your ankle begins to heal, so don’t be alarmed if the blood travels to the lower portion of your foot before being filtered out by your body.
The pain is most often worse when trying to walk or apply weight to your injured ankle, which is why weight-bearing movements should be avoided for at least the first day or two following your injury – if you have work or school, strongly consider taking a day or two off rather than toughing it out.
Getting started with your at-home recovery and allowing your ankle to rest initially can really help shorten the amount of downtime you’ll experience.
I certainly recommend taking proactive action, but that doesn’t necessarily include full-weight bearing movements right away – taking a less is more approach is always much more effective.
When it comes down to it, there are three common types of ankle sprain injuries – these include an inversion, eversion and high ankle sprain.
Even though all three sprains are slightly different, the same form of treatment and recovery strategies can be used interchangeably to treat the symptoms and heal up sooner.
An inversion ankle sprain, also known as a lateral sprain, is by far the most common of the three and refers to an injury that causes your ankle to move outward, while your foot faces inward – primarily affecting, stretching and even tearing the outside ligaments that help support your ankle.
The majority of your swelling will likely be centralized around the outside ligaments of your ankle, which is also where most of the damage has occurred – both the location and amount of bruising is usually quite varied and may actually move around as you continue to recover from your injury.
An eversion sprain, also known as a medial sprain, refers to an injury that occurs in the opposite direction, causing your ankle to move inward, while your foot faces outward – this motion primarily affects, stretches and can even tear the inside ligament.
Whereas this sort of injury is quite uncommon, it happens most often during high activity sports, such as football, basketball, hockey, or soccer – a typical scenario is when a player lands on your lower leg as your foot is being planted on the ground, causing the sprain to occur.
With this type of injury, the amount of swelling isn’t quite as dramatic, but will likely be located towards the inside or near the back of your ankle – with moderate pain occurring in the same region.
Medically referred to as a syndesmotic or syndesmosis ligament sprain, a high ankle sprain is an injury that affects, stretches and can even tear the ligaments that connect the tibia (shin) and the fibula – the two bones that make up your lower leg and connect near the top of your ankle.
Depending on the severity, high ankle sprains usually take longer to heal, mostly due to the complexity of the injury – as their initial treatment, some client may need to wear a protective boot or case for a short amount of, in an effort to stabilize the affected ligaments.
One of the biggest, unforeseen challenges when treating a sprained ankle is dealing with complications – if you have any doubt in your mind, I highly recommend seeing a doctor for an X-ray or MRI to rule out any fractures before getting started with your recovery.
While a sprain may include pain, broken bones are usually much more intense and mind-numbingly painful.
It should go without saying, but if you see anything structurally out of place you should seek professional medical treatment immediately – disfigurement, bleeding, numbness, tingling or an inability to put any weight on the limb are all signs of a broken ankle.
However, once you’ve confidently ruled out any broken bones, make sure to begin treating your ankle at-home immediately for the fastest results.
As you begin your recovery, the number one rule you should keep in mind is always listen to your brain – many clients seem to forget that your brain is in complete control of the entire recovery process.
If your body is telling you not to use your ankle, don’t use it – that’s your brain telling you, “hey, we’re not that far along yet” – getting good at listening to both your brain and your body will play a huge role in recovering faster and healing sooner, so make sure to keep that in mind.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but despite the fact that your ligaments took the extent of the damage, working with the surrounding muscles will be the key to a quick recovery.
While working to reduce your swelling, improving your body’s blood flow will be extremely important.
By increasing blood flow, you strategically amp up your body’s natural ability to process out the excess fluid and swelling surrounding the injury, allowing your ankle to heal sooner and way more effectively than simply resting.
But first, you’ll need a basic understanding of how your muscles work and how the brain uses the muscles to protect your body.
The brain uses the muscle system to protect in two primary ways, through spasm and compensation.
A spasm in the muscle is when the brain literally locks it down to protect an injured area – when you sprain your ankle, everything goes into spasm and you can’t use it – that’s protection through spasm.
Secondarily, the brain also starts to tell other muscles that they need to compensate for the injured muscles by limping or favoring the area – compensation is literally just favoring an area that hurts.
The problems arise when you continue to compensate by limping and favoring the area due to spasm – if you continue to compensate without treating the spasm, you essentially lock that new pattern into your neuromuscular system – it becomes your normal firing pattern for that type of movement.
This compensatory movement can cause headaches, stiffness, lower back pain, knee pain – all unintended side effects of compensating for an untreated injury.
Sprained ankle can wreak havoc on your life the rest of your life if you’re not careful – learning how to treat them through each stage of the healing process is absolutely vital to achieving a full recovery.
Breaking your recovery down into three separate phases will allow for the fastest results through focused effort.
Each phase will have unique goals that you’ll need to accomplish based on where your body is in the recovery process – by focusing in on one specific area, relieving and treating your ankle becomes incredibly easy and step-by-step.
Our first order of business is to treat, relieve and reduce most of the remaining swelling – this is part of your body’s protection system and needs to be filtered out before we can move much further.
The best way to reduce swelling is by icing your ankle intermittently – start by filling a bag with ice.
By applying the cold pack to your ankle for 20 minutes on, followed by 20 minutes off, you’ll help your body naturally calm down the site of the injury by constricting the surrounding blood vessels.
NRT, which stands for neuromuscular release therapy, is a unique technique that helps treat muscles that are in spasm causing compensation – this is important because it also improves blood flow to the injured area, which speeds up the filtering process and allows critical healing nutrients into the joint.
By applying a massage-like pressure to “hot spots” that are currently in spasm, the muscle relaxes and allows additional blood to pass through the muscle, which also helps alleviate any remaining swelling – when done strategically, this technique has been directly responsible for incredibly fast recoveries.
Once you’ve reduced as much swelling as possible and improved blood flow to the injured area, it’s very important to finish up your recovery by moving, stretching and re-strengthening your ankle completely.
Phase 3 of your recovery should be packed full of movements that help recalibrate your balance, stretch out the injured ligaments and re-strengthen the connective tissue and muscles surrounding your ankle.
Beneficial exercises include non-weight bearing movements, such as ankle circles, up down in out movements, slight weight-bearing movements from a seated position, toe and heel raises, as well as full weight-bearing movements, such as one-leg stands, calf raises and toe-walking.
You can certainly go it alone as long as you keep everything we’ve talked about in mind – however, if it were me, I’d want to have everything in one place – that way I could read through it step-by-step, making it super easy to follow along with.
Thankfully, that’s what we’ve done for you – I’ve teamed up with NRT-specialist Paul Ruth, who’s been working in the therapy industry for over 17 years now…
…so he definitely knows his stuff!
We’ve combined our efforts to put together an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide on how to treat any sprained ankle at-home in as little as a few days.
The guide walks you through each phase of your recovery, supplying you with the unique tips, exercises and techniques required to speed up your recovery and get you out of pain faster.
I look forward to getting you started with the program today,
(Bradley Barks, Fitness Coach)
Last Reviewed: 4/21/2012