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How to Treat a Sprained Ankle: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Treat a Sprained Ankle: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sprained ankles throw us off balance. One minute we're doing something simple or that we enjoy - like walking to the shops - and the next minute we're  in immense agony. They're not fun.

If you're reading this, you or a friend are probably in pain and you want to reduce the discomfort as fast as possible.

Let's cut straight to it.

Signs and Symptoms of a Sprained Ankle

First, determine if the ankle is actually sprained. Is the ankle:


 Painful or tender?

 Difficult to move?


Any combination of these could mean a sprained ankle. 

The severity of a sprain can vary, so don't write off minor pain as nothing. Here's a simple breakdown:





Mild damage

- Minimal swelling

- Some pain

- Able to put weight on it


Partial tear

- Noticeable swelling

- Tenderness to touch

- Trouble with bearing weight 


Complete tear

Significant swelling and bruising

 - Intense pain

- Unable to bear any weight 

Remember that everyone is different so what you experience might be slightly different. If in doubt, always seek medical advice!

Immediate First Aid for a Sprained Ankle

Sprained Ankles hurt. Ask anyone who's experienced them. To stop the injury from getting worse, here's what you need to do:

  1. Rest: Stop the activities that caused you pain, swelling or discomfort. If you're in the middle of a 5-a-side match, don't think you can run it off.
  2. Ice: Use an ice pack on your ankle for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours during the first day.
  3. Compression: Wrap your ankle using an elastic bandage or an ankle support until the swelling stops (See instructions below).
  4. Elevation: Elevate your foot by resting it above the level of your heart as often as possible.

Remember, don't put weight on your injured foot and seek medical attention if needed!

How to wrap your sprained ankle

A bandage or ankle support helps support and increase comfort during your recovery. Here's how to wrap it:

  1. Sit down and keep your foot flat on the floor or elevate it slightly.  
  2. Begin wrapping the bandage a few inches above your ankle.
  3. Gently wrap it around your ankle, making sure it's snug but not too tight. You want it to provide support without cutting off circulation.
  4. Continue wrapping downwards, covering your ankle and a bit of your lower leg. Make sure to overlap each wrap by about half of the previous one.
  5. When you reach the end of the bandage, use the clips or tape that came with it to secure it in place.
  6. Check the fit. Ensure that your toes still have good circulation, and it doesn't feel too tight. It should feel supportive but not uncomfortable. If it feels too tight or causes more pain, rewrap it a bit looser.

Prevent Stiffness with These Recovery Exercises

You could spend the next 8-12 weeks lying on the couch waiting for your ankle to heal itself. But, you're going to end up with stiff ankles. Walking post-recovery will feel unnatural - but this is easily avoided with simple exercises.

In the first few weeks of recovery, start with these exercises:

  • Ankle Pumps: Sit comfortably and move your foot up and down 10 times, three times per day.
  • Ankle Circles: Rotate your foot clockwise 10 times then anticlockwise 10 times, repeat three times daily.
  • Alphabet Tracing: With your big toe as the "pencil", trace the alphabet on the floor or in the air.

As you recover and feel more comfortable with the exercises above, move on to these advanced ones:

  • Heel Raises: Stand behind a chair for balance, rise onto toes slowly lower back down. Do two sets of ten repetitions each day.
  • Step Up-and-Downs: Step up onto a step with one foot followed by another, then back down again leading with the same foot. Repeat ten times on each leg every day.
  • Heel-to-Toe walk: Take ten steps forward and backwards, placing heel and then toe. Repeat twice every day.
  • Single-Leg Balance: Raise one foot up and balance on your recovering ankle for 30 seconds. Repeat twice every day. Always perform this exercise near a wall or table to prevent falling.

Remember: everyone’s recovery time differs depending on the severity of the injury, so take things at your own pace!

Reduce pain during recovery with Joint Cream

Recovery hurts. Just walking to the kitchen to grab a drink may hurt as much as the day you injured yourself. The last thing you want is to be bed-bound because you're in that much pain.

Our medical research team developed FISIOPLUS for these moments. We can't make the pain go away forever, but this fast-acting cream lets you get on with your daily activities. Even if that is grabbing the remote off the coffee table. 

It's not vital for recovery, but certainly makes your life easier.

How to Avoid Future Ankle Sprains

It feels silly telling you how to prevent an ankle sprain when you're already injured. But, whilst you're recovering, it's good to make a plan to avoid them in the future. Let's start with understanding what causes ankle sprains in the first place.

Causes of a Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle happens when your foot turns inward, stressing and damaging the ligaments on the outside of your ankle. Here are some common causes:

  • Tripping or falling - A simple trip can cause an awkward landing, leading to a sprain.
  • Walking or running on uneven surfaces - This increases the risk of turning or rolling your ankle.
  • Participation in sports - Certain sports like football, basketball, and tennis involve quick direction changes which could lead to an ankle sprain.

It's also essential to consider factors that increase your chances of getting a sprained ankle. Here is a list:

Risk Factors 


Previous ankle injury

Once you've had an ankle sprain, you’ll likely experience another one.

Lack of strength and flexibility

Weak muscles and stiff ligaments increase susceptibility to injuries.

Inappropriate footwear

Shoes without proper support make ankles more prone to twisting.

These points don't guarantee you'll get a sprained ankle, but they raise the odds significantly.

Tips to Prevent Future Ankle Sprains

  • Always Warm Up. Warming up before any physical activity helps prepare your body, reducing the chance of spraining an ankle.
  • Wear Supportive Shoes. Good footwear provides the necessary support for your feet and ankles. It's crucial in preventing injuries.
  • Improve Your Balance. Practice exercises like yoga or pilates that enhance balance and coordination. These can help avoid falls and awkward landings that may lead to a sprain.
  • Strengthen Your Ankles. Regular exercise focused on strengthening ankle muscles can make them more resilient against injury.

Always seek medical advice

Taking care of a sprained ankle isn't rocket science. It's all about giving your body the time and conditions it needs to heal. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) is your first line of defence after a mishap. Pain relievers, like FISIOPLUS help manage discomfort.

Remember: if symptoms persist or worsen over time, see a health professional immediately. They can provide more advanced treatments like physiotherapy or even surgery in severe cases.

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