We see a lot of ankle sprains or “rolled ankles” here at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy. Once our patients come to see us in the clinic, we often hear “I didn’t know what to do straight after I rolled it. Should I stretch it? Should I rest? Should I apply ice even the day after?” Following on from last weeks blog, here we will discuss the best way to manage your ankle sprain as soon as it happens and get yourself on the road to recovery before even seeing your Physio!
Straight after the sprain- to weight bear or not?
If you feel comfortable and safe to do so, it’s okay to stand and bear weight on your ankle. How comfortable this is will often depend on the severity of your sprain. Regardless, for the first 24-48 hours, you’ll likely need to keep periods of walking and standing to short stints to help reduce swelling. If you feel okay to do so, short periods of weight bearing are useful in normalising your walking pattern and helping to dampen the pain signalling and sensitivity around the area.
Generally speaking, if you feel unable to weight bear at all in the hours and days after the injury, you may need an X-ray to rule out a fracture or more serious injury. Your Physiotherapist can assess and advice you whether an X-ray is necessary, or in the case of severe sprains whether you may need crutches or a boot for a short period- this will depend on how active you need to be throughout the day and what you’re aiming to get back to!
Elevate your ankle
When you’re not walking or standing, raising your leg up above the level of your heart will be useful in helping to reduce the swelling in your ankle by using gravity to track the fluid out of your leg. If you’re sitting at your desk, try to at least raise it slightly onto a foot rest or box.
Ice vs heat.
Always ice in the first 48-72 hours. Generally, if some swelling still remains (which it often does, and can for weeks after a severe sprain!) ice is still the answer, especially directly onto the swollen part of the ankle and foot. Applying ice for 20 minutes every few hours will help to reduce swelling and pain.
After majority of the swelling has resolved, you can use heat higher up into your calf muscles if they are feeling stiff due to reduced movement. Once your swelling and pain has mostly subsided, some people find heat useful if their main issue is a bit of stiffness, particularly in the morning.
Should I apply a bandage or tape it?
Applying a compressive bandage can help in the initial stages to reduce your pain and swelling, as well as make you feel more secure. This can be challenging to apply yourself, particularly if you’ve not done it before, so get your Physio to show you how. Depending on the severity of the sprain, your Physio my choose to tape it for you or give you a brace to wear to help with daily stability- this varies person to person.
Should I do any exercise or just rest altogether?
Again, this depends on the severity of the sprain. For majority of sprains, early movement is important in recovery and helping reduce pain, however the degree of movement varies greatly. For most sprains, sitting with your leg extended and drawing circles or tracing the Alphabet with your toes will be safe and tolerable. Milder sprains may be able to start calf raising, stretching, balance and sometimes even easy running- this is where you need to consult with your physio about the best course of management for you!
How can we help you?
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible.
But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert massage therapists so we can help you reduce your pain or stiffness.
If you are showing some signs of this condition or simply want help prevent this from happening in the future then book in with one of our highly experienced Remedial Massage Therapists today!
You can make an appointment by calling 03 9498 0205 or booking online.