If you have ever experienced an ankle sprain, you probably noticed it can take a while to heal properly. How long your recovery period takes depends largely on how bad the ankle is sprained and what type of treatment strategies are used to fix the injury. You should never play it safe when trying to recover from a severe sprain or if you feel a sharp pain in your ankle after activity. But less serious injuries may not need to be treated in the same way, so we’re here to teach you how to walk after an ankle sprain while keeping things as safe and simple as possible.
Is it OK to Walk on an Ankle Sprain?
Sprained ankles are common injuries. The most important thing after you sprain your ankle is to seek proper medical attention to ensure no damage is done to the area. Injuries such as broken bones, torn ligaments and damaged tissue may go unnoticed by a regular doctor, but could be more severe than you think. Why would you risk it and neglect making an appointment with a healthcare professional? You need all the facts from a medical professional, so you can safely return to walking on your injured ankle.
After you are out of danger and your ankle is feeling better, the next step on the road to recovery should be an attempt to start walking again to regain your mobility. You will probably wonder when is the proper time for this big step, but you should listen to your body more than anyone else. It sounds so logical and simple, but some people don’t do it. They ignore their needs and continue to push their bodies in all kinds of unreasonably extreme ways, which only cause further damage. If there’s any advice we would give in this particular case, it's to wear an ankle brace or kinesiology tape to protect yourself from re-injury as you start improving your overall health.
The Right Way to Walk on a Sprained Ankle
To avoid re-injury and needless pain after suffering a moderate to mild ankle sprain, you need to learn how to walk properly for the first few weeks. Ankle instability will continue as you try to recover from your injury. There are ways to give your ankle some extra stability, so that you can take on daily activities without worrying about hurting yourself further. Some of the best ways to support your healing ankle with either Kinesiology tape or even a brace or custom made walking boot. We also have suggestions on which physical therapy exercises can be effective in promoting recovery.
Start slowly, by gradually reintroducing weight-bearing activities on your foot. A tightening or tensing of the ankle is not a good sign, and can indicate you’re compensating for damage to your ligaments, but that doesn't mean you have to call it quits. Take care of yourself, but don't overdo any physical activity if you want to avoid further injury. Sports medicine professionals are perfect occupational health resources, as they can recommend exercises and stretches that will help your flexibility, but won't cause further strain on your ankles, as reparative ligaments heal faster than you may think!
Getting injured isn't the end of all hope. With the guidance of a trained professional and some pretty basic means, you'll find it's not so hard to get on your feet again once you've sprained your ankle. Ensure you're always following physician's orders when recovering from badly sprained ankles. Follow these steps:
Apply Heat After Initial Injury
Heat helps improve blood flow, but shouldn't be used immediately. After initial injury, you'll want to use a cold pack to reduce swelling for the first few days, before slowly beginning to apply a herbal heating pad, which will help loosen stiff joints and ease pain, as it improves blood flow and mobility.
Take Small Steps
The first time you walk, take your time. Walk with small steps and allow yourself to adjust to the feeling of balancing on a sprained ankle. Before you start moving, incorporate some easy ankle stretches.
Taking ibuprofen or naproxen after an ankle sprain can help reduce pain and inflammation in the long-term. This will usually also help in the healing process, enabling you to start moving as soon as possible without discomfort.
We all know that overuse injuries can occur from various sporting accidents, etc., and it's vital to treat them immediately with rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest for the first few days of your sprain, apply an ice pack directly onto your ankle for 20 min intervals, use an elastic bandage to wrap around your foot and ankle to compress the affected area, elevate it above the level of your chest as often as possible.
Kinesio tape is like that extra security blanket your mom gave you that you insisted on carrying with you everywhere. But instead of being a blanket, it's a piece of medical bandage-like material that people can stretch and stick to their bodies for good measure. A kinesiology tape is an excellent way to help naturally heal injuries by increasing one’s body’s awareness of the injured area. Not only does it increase sensory perception, but it also helps those injured, but they are not ready to give up their love for sports or physical activities yet!
When you have a sprained ankle, it is best to wear an ankle brace. An ankle brace will stabilize the ankle with the intention of reducing swelling and promoting healing. Ankle braces vary in their stretchiness or tightness, and in how much immobility they offer, so choose a brace that's right for you.
How Long Should You Wait to Walk on a Sprained Ankle?
Generally speaking, the sooner you can walk on your ankle after injuring it, the better. If you are capable of walking right after sustaining the injury, and the pain isn’t too bad, it’s usually a good sign that severe ligament or bone damage hasn’t occurred. It’s recommended to take it easy for the first 24 to 72 hours by increasing rest and modifying exercise routines as necessary to accommodate any limitations that may be enforced due to your injured ankle. A compression bandage will also be of great use to help reduce swelling of your ankle when trying to heal maximum mobility.
Also, ensure you follow the RICE protocol, in which Rest is given priority over everything else; followed by Ice; Compression with an appropriate compression bandage; and then finally Elevation if needed to ensure maximum results for optimum recovery time.