Running may lead to regular aches and pains, but nothing can sideline an athlete or hobbyist quite as quickly as a sprained ankle. The good news is that most ankle sprains aren't the most serious leg injury a runner can suffer by a wide margin, but the bad news comes when trying to spring back from a serious sprain.
Knowing the severity of your injury and the best way to accelerate the
body's natural healing process can make all the difference between
weeks on a couch and getting back to your routine before lethargy sets in.
So while recover is key, keep in mind that a sprain is still a mildly serious injury that can range in severity. If you suspect you've sprained your ankle, recognizing the symptoms and seeing a qualified expert to diagnose your condition is paramount. Should the ankle be broken rather than sprained, for instance, avoiding a doctor visit might leave you with a permanently altered gait among many other potential issues. Always seek professional help when you've sustained a potential injury.
Thankfully there are several ways to treat a sprained ankle and help your body recoup once you've received your diagnosis.
1.Practice Your RICE
While there's nothing wrong with making a pot of rice to soothe away the disappointment of an injury, RICE is less a culinary instruction and more a simple mnemonic device used to explain how to handle injuries that involve inflammation, swelling, pain and other minor grievances that often cannot be treated short of painkillers and recovery time. In this case, RICE stands for:
- Rest - Cease whatever activity caused the injury and try not to put unnecessary strain on your injured ankle.
- Ice - To help reduce swelling and discomfort, wrap an ice pack or a sandwich bag full of ice cubes in a tea towel and press to the afflicted area. Repeat two to three times daily for the first 72 hours of your injury; If the swelling has subsided, you may apply heat to lessen the pain.
Compression - Wrapping your ankle in a compression wrap can help reduce
swelling when paired with proper applications of ice and rest. Don't
over-tighten the bandage.
If your swelling hasn't gone down after 72 hours, chances are you have a serious sprain and need to speak with a medical professional.
- Elevate - Keeping your ankle at or above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling.
2.Develop A Stretching Routine
After speaking with your ankle care specialist you'll likely be prescribed a stretching regimen to help your body rehabilitate after a sprain. Make sure you follow your doctor's advice and repeat any exercises as often as suggested, but make sure you report new pain or worsening swelling and cease any exercises that worsen your symptoms.
3.Encourage Healthy Blood Flow
Chances are your sprained ankle will feel warm to the touch and the skin around the sprain will look redder than usual. Your body reacts to most injuries by increasing blood flow to the affected area and this circulation helps your injuries heal naturally, but you can always encourage even more healthy circulation with gentle self-massage to your leg while nursing your wounded ankle. Keep your ankle at or above the level of your heart much as you would during the elevation phase of RICE and take care not to strain yourself in the process.
4.Treat the Swelling Medically
Your doctor will prescribe any medications they see fit for your injury. Chances are they'll suggest over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen as part of your healing regimen.
Follow the dosage suggestions on your bottle and ensure you drink a glass of water with every dose. Swelling can be worsened by dehydration and taking an extra drink as part of your medicine routine will help stave off accidentally missing a few glasses of water through the day.
5.Change Up Your Exercise Routine
There's nothing worse than wanting to exercise but being unable to due to injury, but getting back out on the street or track too early can leave you with long-term pain that you may never be able to treat.
Focus on exercises that don't require your legs to bear weight while
working through a sprain. Rowing, kayaking and elliptical exercises are
all more than acceptable ways to get your daily dose of exercise while
waiting for your leg to heal.
While you may not look forward to the weeks and weeks it can take to rehabilitate a seriously sprained ankle, you'll thank yourself years down the line when you aren't suffering through enhanced arthritis pain or lose ankle mobility due to re-injury.
The road to recovery can be a long and painful one but treating a sprain is often simply a matter of taking things slow for a while and ensuring your body gets the rest it needs to heal itself.
Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a WorkBootCritic contributing reviewer and regular guest blogger for numerous online publications. She has a keen interest in everything related to health, especially feet health, and she writes on this topic as often as possible. Visit Amanda’s Twitter for more of her writings.