For decades, the most commonly recommended form of treating an ankle sprain has been referred to as RICE, an acronym that stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
While portions of this type of treatment are certainly useful, it leaves to chance everything after your initial treatment, which – in our opinion – is an ineffective, irresponsible way to fully recover from a sprained ankle.
By incorporating more up-to-date, unique strategies and techniques, you can dramatically speed up your recovery, get rid of the pain faster, and get back to enjoying your life that much sooner. Having the proper knowledge and knowing the science behind your injury can give your recovery a much needed head start, one that can take weeks or even months off of your downtime.
R – Rest
Rest is a vital part of your initial treatment. Without it, you could be re-injuring your ankle before it has had time to heal. While the initial pain and weakness can be frustrating, it’s our body’s natural way of forcing us to rest while it begins to take advantage of certain hormones, rushes fluid to the injured area, and begins to do its best to regenerate the injured tissue.
However, herein lies the first way that RICE leads your recovery in the wrong direction. Instead of simply resting for weeks, or even months, it’s much more effective to take care of your initial treatment within a few days, and then begin a considerably more proactive approach to your recovery. By beginning to move your ankle around, and also utilize additional swelling reduction techniques, we can essentially super-charge the therapeutic process, which can produce exceptionally fast results.
I – Ice
Icing has been proven to initially constrict the blood vessels in your foot, while helping to control the swelling associated with your injury. Cold temperatures are great for swelling management, but after the first day or two, icing can start to get in the way of your overall recovery.
Another common misconception when icing is how long you should be icing for. We’ve seen the best results by only icing for the first and second day of rehabilitation, followed by self-massage and contrast therapy, two unique, efficient methods that can help greatly reduce and get rid of the remaining swelling.
C – Compression
Compressing your injury is another common way to help reduce the initial swelling. This is generally done with an elastic, athletic wrap, which is applied with a certain technique. Our favorite way to wrap is by using a spiral wrap, one of the easiest to apply to your own ankle.
Start off by applying a firm anchor close to the end of your foot – near your toes – by wrapping around your foot once. Gradually move up your foot and ankle – as you do, allow the wrap’s tension to become lighter as it moves up toward the lower part of your calf muscle.
However, do be cautious of wrapping too tightly – you may end up constricting blood flow all together if you apply the wrap too firmly, which isn’t our goal. The wrap should be light enough for you to move your foot around in, but tight enough to help control your initial swelling.
E – Elevation
Elevation is the last recommendation of the RICE treatment, and a common technique that is used to help control your initial swelling. By propping your foot up higher than the level of your heart, you can effectively take advantage of gravity, which allows built up fluids and swelling to naturally flow from the site of your injury much more easily – helping to reduce initial fluid retention.
Using elevation at the beginning of your recovery can certainly be an effective form of initial treatment. Although, after you’ve contained and begun to reduce your initial swelling, elevating your ankle ultimately becomes useless. From this point on, it’s time to refocus your efforts on stretching, balancing, and rebuilding your strength.
What RICE Leaves Out
Along the way, someone should have mentioned that following the RICE treatment for a sprained ankle should only be done for the first and second day of your recovery, at most. After that point, the principles become useless, and start to get in the way of the healing process.
Plus, simply icing and waiting around definitely isn’t the most effective way to get rid of the swelling in your ankle. By incorporating a combination of contrast therapy and self-massage, you can dramatically speed up your recovery, and regain your mobility much faster. Nothing’s more frustrating than crawling or hobbling from room-to-room when you’re suffering from a sprained ankle.
Stretching, Strengthening, and Balancing Exercises
After you’ve controlled and gotten rid of the initial swelling in and around your ankle, the next step of your recovery should be adding in range-of-motion movements, light stretching, balancing exercises, and strength training moves. When combining all of these techniques, most individuals can expect to be walking normally again within only a few days, usually a week at the max.
ACT: At-Home, Online Rehab Program
Since it’s not enough to only have the knowledge, we’ve spent hundreds of hours compiling and producing an at-home ankle rehabilitation system, known as ACT. ACT stands for active, corrective, therapy, and proactively includes instructions and demonstrations on how to effectively move through each phase of your recovery.
From initial treatment to stretching, range-of-motion exercises to strength training movements, each stage of your recovery is laid out in videos that are presented to you instantly online. I’ll be taking you through, step-by-step, and explaining why the techniques work, and how exactly to execute them.
If you’re ready to end your pain and frustration, get back to the activities you love, and greatly reduce your risk of re-injury in the future, click here to get started with your free online consultation. There, I’ll be explaining a little more about your injury, and going over everything that’s included when you get started with the ACT rehab program today.