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What can I do for an inversion ankle sprain?

Ms. Karena Wu
Physical Therapy

Follow the PRICE principle first: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.  Protect the new sprain with an Ace wrap bandage. Rest: Get off your feet! Ice: Apply cold therapy to the ankle joint, completely around the joint, to minimize the swelling the best. Compress: Make the Ace wrap or ankle brace (if a sleeve) snug, but not constricting, to minimize swelling. Elevate: Get the ankle and foot above heart level, which means get on your back and get that leg up to help drain the swelling.

Consult your physical therapist as to when to start ankle strengthening exercises, and to get other modalities (ultrasound, electrical stimulation) and manual therapies to help heal the injured ligament and joint.

Vincent Burke
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

PREVENT FIRST: A lateral ankle sprain is the most common of all sprains especially in sports such as basketball. When one is involved in such a vulnerable sports to sprain the ankle it is key to prepare yourself and avoid ankle sprains by doing certain training such as balance/posture training. One-leg activities are key to reduce the chances of injury. The ankle typically sprains when ONE leg is on the ground and so it is best to train with one leg on the ground at a time. You can progress from stable surfaces to unstable surfaces i.e. wobble boards, discs, air mats to vibration surfaces. It is also fun to train without shoes in a controlled environment. This allows the muscles, ligaments and joints to all work.

Treatment: Seeing a professional for verification is key. After, the classification of the sprain is given it will guide one how to treat it. PRICE Protect the joint, Rest the joint, Compress the ankle and elevate the leg. It is important to modify the stresses and perform exercises that will not stress/strain the injured area. It is also important not to stop exercising other body parts as long as it is not painful to the injured area. This will avoid deconditioning on the "GOOD" and help one not to get depressed.

NO PAIN NO GAIN IS OUT!  NO INCREASE PAIN WITH ANY EXERCISE IS IMPORTANT... Bike, followed by stable exercises for the hips and knees. If one has to sit to do the exercises it is OK.  Global exercises for the core and upper body are helpful. Local exercises such as isometrics and modified balance exercises while holding on than progress to one leg. Remember, not to leave out the non-involved side to do the same. The body is a masterful in that when we work the "good" it helps the injured. We may not want to rush into stretching the ankle/calf because when we sprain a ligament it is already "stretched" out too much so we want scar tissue to bound down and heal. Stretching into DORSI FLEXION (TOES TO NOSE) will put the ligaments on stretch and the same for PLANTAR FLEX. (POINTED DOWN and IN). Putting ice is important and actively resting which means doing exercises pain free. Progress in a pain free manner. It is important not to force healing but put the injured part in a good healing environment. When thinking to return to sport, you may benefit from taping or wearing a swedo brace for support. Always check with your Doctor, Therapist or ATC before returning safely.

Yusuf Boyd, NASM Elite Trainer
Athletic Training

Whether inversion or eversion, ankle sprains are very common. The most effective rehabilitation techniques involve strengthening not only the ankle but the hips as well. When you sprain your ankle you lose some strength and stability at the hip as well because those muscles help control what happens at the foot.

The first thing that you want to tackle is restoring ROM (range of motion). This can be done by static stretching and SMR (self myofascial release) on a foam roll, ensuring that you get the calf complex, anterior tibialis, and the peroneals. Progress to ankle strengthening and propriceptive exercises like balancing on the injured ankle for sets of 30 seconds on a stable surface (floor), building up to non stable surfaces (wobble board, pillow, dyna disc). Once you achieve a good level of balance you can begin to work on the hips and knees. Some good exercises are lateral tube walking, step ups to balance, body weight squats, balance and reach, etc. 

Especially in the early stages and throughout the rehab process you can manage any swelling by following RICE (rest ice compression and elevation). Ice your ankle after your rehab for 20 minutes and elevate it. 

If you have an inversion ankle sprain, you should perform a combination of flexibility and strengthening techniques to help your body heal and prevent further injury. Begin by foam rolling your calves and IT-band. Foam rolling is a form of self-massage that can help relax tight muscles before you stretch them. Hold the tender spots for 30 seconds to allow your muscle time to relax and release the knots that are causing tension in the muscle. After you have completed the foam rolling, statically stretch your calves and hip flexor complex. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds so that your muscles have time to elongate. Next, perform strengthening exercises for the foot, ankle, and hip. Single-leg calf raises will help strengthen the muscles that support your foot and ankle. Perform ball bridges to strengthen the muscles in your hips that help control your foot and ankle. Lastly, perform a single-leg balance exercise to strengthen the muscles of the entire leg. When performing any single-leg exercise, ensure that you keep the arch of your foot lifted while performing the exercise. Perform 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of each of these exercises.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.