A sprained ankle can happen to anyone. It does not matter if it is a toddler learning how to walk or the most outstanding track and field athlete to walk to earth.
What is essential is to know how to treat a sprained ankle by following the five rules to a fast recovery: compress, elevate, medicate, heat or cold, and rest. Using the five rules as a general guide, any individual can find themselves back on their feet in no time at all.
In general, a sprained ankle can happen simply by walking on uneven terrain, but the article focuses on ankle sprains and injuries that occur during training. These tend to be more severe than just a twisting of the joint and require the athlete to spend time recuperating.
Downtime or rest is one of the most stressful for an athlete as it interrupts a schedule involving training sessions and actual pay games.
While the stress of the situation might cause anxiety and the desire to follow the footsteps of so many inspiring sports movies where the protagonist fights through the pain and goes on to win the world cup or take the title, in reality, this might cause the sprained ankle to worsen and in rare cases can lead to developing chronic ankle instability.
This weakness in the joint means a person is prone to reinjury, which can lead to some very awkward conversations regarding the player’s future in their selected discipline.
The Science Behind a Sprain
An ankle sprain occurs when the joint is twisted, turned, or rolled beyond its normal range of motion while bearing weight. This can happen during normal walking or running. The movement can cause the ligaments to stretch and strain due to the force of the misstep.
The ligament is what joins the muscle to the bone and is usually very stretchy and elastic; they work by stretching while the muscle pulls on the joint, then the ligaments return to their regular positions. A sprain occurs when ligaments are forced to go beyond their range of motion. A twisting sprain is usually followed by a sharp pain indicating something wrong has happened.
The most significant sign of a sprain is pain. If the joint cannot bear weight without signaling discomfort or pain, it is most likely injured. If for any reason, there is doubt, then a doctor’s appointment would be sensible to make sure there is no problem at the joint level.
Sprained Ankle Symptoms
The symptoms can range from tenderness in the area when it is touched to general swelling or bruising. A limited range of motion, instability, and in some occurrences, a popping sensation or clicking noise at the same time as the injury occurs.
Symptoms include but aren’t limited to:
- Limited range of motion
- Weakness in the ankle.
- Popping of Clicking sound.
- Sensitivity or tenderness to the touch
- PAIN in the articulation or joint.
Can you walk on it?
Yes, a sprained ankle is not a broken one. While putting a limited amount of pressure on the joint is feasible, it is not recommended. Placing pressure on a sprained joint can slow recovery and increase injury risk.
There is nothing worse than ignoring the body’s messages about the need for rest and self-care. Listen to what the body is trying to say.
Can you avoid it?
Several approaches can help avoid injury.
- Be aware of the terrain.
- Wear the right shoes for the sport.
- Use Kinesiology Tape, self adhesive bandage wrap, brace, and wear them.
- Warmup and Stretch!
- Proper technique
The most common approach to treating a sprained ankle is the RICE method.
RICE stranding for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
The RICE method is intended for simple sprains that do not require medication. This method is best used three to four times a day and can be of great use for any athlete with a light sprain.
More complicated injuries require a little more attention. The use of medication might be necessary to manage swelling and pain.
Anti-inflammatories are usually taken for these types of situations. For breaks, a doctor will usually immobilize the articulation and, depending on the severity of the injury, recommend surgery if necessary.
The body needs time to heal. Unlike the depiction in popular anime or modern cinema, a person cannot simply eat more and suddenly gain instant regeneration. The healing process requires the individual to take time off and lay down to reduce swelling and restrict an overstretched ligament or torn muscle. There are no quick fixes, so it is crucial to lie down, read a book, watch a movie, or meditate. Rest will aid the recovery process.
Ice or Heat
While the RICE method usually calls for the use of ice, in certain cases where swelling is not present and muscle bruising is, the application of heat can be of great benefit. Reusable ice pack will help decrease the accumulation of fluids to keep the swelling down.
When muscles are bruised, the accumulated blood that darkens the skin can be helped along its way by the application of warm compresses to the skin to promote blood flow and help the muscle relax and the blood to move on.
The use of medical tape, athletic tape, and kinesiology sports tape can be a great benefit to the injury. A slight sprain does not require total immobilization, but stability can help it heal faster. The application of tape at an articulation point like the ankle can create a small space for blood to flow easily to the joint, bringing more oxygen. The compression will also help fight the swelling and the accumulation of fluids in the articulation or joint.
The point of elevation is to keep fluids from building up in the affected areas since swelling would slow down blood flow. A raised ankle by laying on one’s back and using pillows or even a modified sling can provide significant relief.
There is a wide range of liniment oils, creams, menthol-based aids, and alike that promise relief. While these can bring comfort, and some might even numb the pain, they are not replacement therapies. They can be a bonus to any recovery process as long as the user remembers they are still injured and have to apply the rest of the RICE method to see results and recover speedily.
So bear in mind all these phases as they are all critical to a speedy recovery. Try not to play fast and loose with what the body needs and pay attention to the messages it sends. The body will be grateful for the care and return to the field of play faster than expected.
Seek professional help if you have any further questions or concerns.