If you are a runner, spraining your ankle is one of the most frustrating things that can happen! It’s not just the blow to the physical routine for many people, but the inability to do the exercise that is so important to mental well-being that is so frustrating. Understandably, people want to get back to their regular exercise routine as quickly as possible, but you must do this carefully.
Take the Time to Heal
First, be sure that you are dealing with a sprained rather than a broken ankle. A sprained ankle is when the ligaments that hold your joint together are damaged. A broken or fractured ankle is when the bone in your ankle is damaged.
The symptoms of a sprain and a break can be quite similar, but treatment methods are different. There will be swelling in both cases, and you may struggle to put weight on your ankle.
If you heard a crack when you injured your ankle, your ankle looks misshapen rather than just swollen, your ankle feels numb, or the pain in your ankle is directly above the ankle bone, then it is likely that you have a fracture or a break rather than a sprain. Speak with a doctor if you are unsure. If you think that your ankle injury has been misdiagnosed and this has impacted your recovery, then speak to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer like Anapol Weiss, who will be able to let you know if you have a case.
Once you are sure you are dealing with a sprain, then follow the R.I.C.E. method to ease the inflammation:
- Rest. While you are dealing with pain and swelling, rest your ankle as much as possible, don’t try to walk on it too much.
- Ice. Several times a day for 10-15 minutes, ice your ankle by wrapping ice or frozen peas in a towel.
- Compression. Use a compression bandage.
- Elevate. As much as possible, keep your ankle elevated above your heart.
You can also take a pain killer like ibuprofen to help bring down the swelling and manage the pain if it is just too much.
Build Strength in Your Ankle
Once you are able to comfortably put weight on your ankle, you can start exercises to restore strength and mobility to your injured ankle. Your doctor will likely give you some exercises, and if you work with a personal trainer, they will be able to advise you as well.
You’ll want to include exercises that help you build a range of motion, such as the ‘ankle alphabet’ where you stretch out your foot and try to trace the letters of the alphabet in the air with your big toe. Strength and balance exercises are also important such as ankle raises and trying to balance on your injured ankle with your eyes closed.
Return to Exercise With Low Impact Activity
Before returning to running, add some low impact activity back into your routine such as swimming, cycling, or walking on an elliptical machine.
This will allow you to start building some strength without the full impact of running.
Whether you are ready to start exercise is a personal decision. Be sure to listen to your body, and if you experience pain, then ease back on the exercise a little.
Add Running Back in Slowly
When you can do low impact exercise comfortably, you can add in a little running. Try adding a small amount of running, say 2-3 minutes, into a larger overall routine, and be sure that you are wearing supportive running shoes.
It’s also a good idea to run on softer surfaces, to begin with, as asphalt will cause more impact than say, grass.
Again, listen to your body and build up the length of time you run for slowly, and if you experience pain, then ease back.