Ankle Sprains: Recovery & Things to Know

One of the more common injuries for athletes and fitness enthusiasts is the ankle sprain. Ankle sprains can be painful and hinder your performance. Here are some tips on dealing with an ankle sprain.

Identify The Injury

Ankle sprains often announce themselves with a loud pop after you land wrong or step awkwardly. However, this pop can also happen on Achilles' tendon and ligament tears. Gauge your pain rating; if you are in crippling pain and it never subsides, call an ambulance or have a friend or family member take you to the hospital. If you end up with a lingering pain and swelling after a few minutes, assume that it is a sprain until your recovery process or doctor tells you otherwise. Set up an appointment with your doctor to be sure what grade of sprain it is. There are multiple grades of ankle sprains, and some of them require medical treatment only your doctor can provide.


The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society recommends using the RICE method to treat sprains. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, elevate. Take some time away from activities that put strain or pressure on the ankle. Put ice or an ice pack in a towel, and put it on the skin around the ankle where there is swelling in twenty-minute cycles. Compress the ankle, and elevate it to reduce the swelling.

Working Around the Injury

There are always going to be people who want to work around the pain. Bottom line is that the ankle needs rest. As a lifter, avoid heavy exercises like squats and deadlifts that rely on leg stability. Upper body exercises should be perfectly fine to do unless you do standing lifts. If you absolutely have to, lift the lighter weight on the lower body if your sprain is low-grade or you are on the back end of the recovery process. Avoid contact sports until the sprain is healed, and focus on light cardio or cardio that focuses on upper body movement. A low-grade ankle sprain is fairly easy to work through after a few days, but you still need to take it easy until it is fully healed.

Post-Recovery Considerations

Unfortunately, one ankle sprain can often lead to a higher risk of re-injury. Ankle sprains weaken the ligament, making it more susceptible to suffering sprains or more serious injuries. You need to take precautions to prevent this in the future. If the injury occurred during a basketball game or other sport, consider the kind of shoes you were wearing. You may need footwear that provides better ankle support, as most people who are not avid players may not invest in basketball shoes.  Another piece of equipment that is helpful is an ankle brace. Some models of brace are bulky, but you may be able to find a more comfortable support at a higher price. Ankle tape can also be helpful in preventing injuries if you apply it properly. Want to know more about recovering from injuries? Click here to read about injury and recovery!