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The ankle can be injured while running, kicking a ball, or during an accident. It is important to know what symptoms to look for and how long it will take your ankle to heal before you may resume activities. There are many causes of sprains, including wearing improper shoes and not warming up properly beforehand.
According to the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society, over 25,000 individuals sprain their ankle every day. So what are some of the reasons why someone could sprain their ankle?
People of all ages might suffer from ankle injuries. They’re often caused by factors like repeated usage and improper exercise posture. Muscle compensations, antagonistic muscle imbalances, and trauma to a ligament or joint near the foot are all possible reasons. Accidents such as falling are another common cause for the elderly, who might have weakness and instability in their ankles.
Pain, swelling, throbbing, and even a black/blue look around the injury are all common symptoms of a rolled ankle. In addition, ankle sprains are unpleasant and uncomfortable since they normally require you to be off your feet. The good news is that natural sprained ankle remedies may help you recover faster from ankle sprains and other ailments.
It’s critical to rest the afflicted foot after rolling or twisting your ankle. Then, elevate the region as much as possible over the following 48-72 hours, if feasible. The following are some natural sprained ankle treatments: cooling the ankle, using essential oils to decrease pain, and avoiding the injury from occurring again.
What is an Ankle Sprain?
A “sprain” frequently indicates that particular bodily components have been overworked and strained. For example, a twisted or rolled ankle is another name for a sprained ankle. A rupture in one or more ligaments that support and stabilize the ankle is commonly the cause of pain.
Ligaments are strong tissue bands that connect bones. They stabilize joints such as the ankle, wrist, knee, lower back, neck, elbow, and shoulder. “An ankle sprain happens when the strong ligaments that support the ankle strain beyond their limits and break,” according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. As a result, the ankle’s ligaments are stretched beyond their usual range of motion.
On the outside of the ankle is the lateral ligament. It’s the portion of the ankle that gets hurt the most when it’s rolled, overused, twisted, or strained. The malfunction of these ligaments is responsible for up to 85% of all ankle sprains. In addition, small tissue fibers make up the ankle ligaments. These fibers may be injured in various ways, from minor pulls or twists to total rips.
Even after the original injury, if the ankle ligaments are totally damaged, the ankle may become unstable. This lays the stage for future ailments such as weakness, instability, and other injuries. In addition, the bones and cartilage of the ankle joint may be damaged over time due to muscle compensations produced by instability. This is particularly dangerous for those who participate in high-impact activities like jogging or participating in contact sports.
Common Causes and Risk Factors
According to the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, sprained ankles and fractures are among the most frequent leg injuries, according to the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. One ankle sprain is predicted to occur per 10,000 individuals every day in Western nations. In addition, sprained ankles account for 16-21 percent of all sports-related injuries, according to studies. They usually happen during activities that impact, including ankle fracture, over-twisting, or misuse of lower-body muscles.
Ankle sprains are most common in the following situations:
- When running or simply strolling as a kind of exercise. The danger is greatest when traveling fast and on any uneven, hard surface. Unsupportive shoes that don’t properly fit your feet put you at risk for injured ankles because they encourage rolling, instability, and twisting.
- Tripping, falling or being knocked down (as in contact sports like football, basketball, wrestling, or soccer). If the elderly lose their equilibrium and fall, they might sprain their ankle. In addition, during practice or a game, athletes often roll or misuse their ankles. For example, an opponent may violently tread on a player’s foot or push them down in such a manner that they twist.
- Having a bad posture or using incorrect form. For example, ankle sprains may be caused by excessive supination during running or walking.
- Having existing muscle compensations in the legs, sacrum, and spine due to bad posture.
- Ankle sprains, stress fractures in the legs, and tendon tears are all old ailments. In addition, scar tissue may form due to these procedures, causing instability.
- Exercising too much without appropriate rest or standing for lengthy periods are examples of overuse.
- Due to age or illnesses like arthritis, you may have a limited range of motion and stiffness. Too little exercise might also cause weakness in the ankles or lower body (a sedentary lifestyle).
- In the joints of the foot or ankles, loose ligaments or cartilage loss are common (such as those of the subtalar joint).
- Leg discrepancy (legs of different lengths) can occur due to genetics, causing instability.
The following are some symptoms that you’ve likely rolled your ankle:
- When placing weight on the ankle or moving, there is pain.
- Puffiness, redness, heat, and throbbing around the damaged ligaments/joints are all signs of a swollen ankle.
- Bruising around the bone or other forms of skin discoloration. For example, severe ankle sprains are often accompanied by bleeding, which leads to bruises and a black-and-blue look.
- Some people describe hearing a cracking or popping sound when the damage occurs. This is most common after a severe sprain in which the ligament is entirely torn.
- There is a loss of functioning in the lower body and a reduction in range of motion. Ankles, calves, outer thighs, and knees may all be affected by discomfort and dysfunctional musculoskeletal disorders. It’s difficult to go on with routine activities as a result of this.
- You may have discomfort on the bottom of your feet if you frequently roll your ankle (in the ball of the foot). In addition, due to your form/stance, you may acquire clawed toes/hammertoes.
An X-ray of an injured ankle is occasionally taken to check that no bones have been shattered. The symptoms and look of a sprained ankle may often be used to diagnose it. Your doctor will examine your ankle for symptoms of swelling. She’ll ask you questions about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. She could also move about or push on your ankle to see how restricted your range of motion is. Following a diagnosis, your orthopedist or doctor may offer the following treatments for a sprained ankle:
- Using an over-the-counter analgesic. Ibuprofen and naproxen are examples of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) that might help manage pain and swelling at first.
- The foot is being rested and iced. Use compression dressings, bandages, or ace-wraps to keep your ankle motionless. For the first 48 hours, elevate your ankle by elevating it above the level of your chest.
- Improve your exercise form and wear more supportive shoes with inserts.
- When exercising, the first step is normally to change your sneakers/shoes, which may involve wearing orthotic inserts for support. Arch support and a raised heel are common features of orthotic inserts used in sneakers or shoes. They are in charge of the foot’s forward motion. In addition, they may assist in supporting the ankle by relieving strain on the little toes.
- Physical treatment may be recommended by your doctor, depending on the severity of your supination condition. Physical therapy may “re-teach” your muscles and joints how to distribute their weight more evenly from the ground up.
7 Home Remedies for Ankle Sprains
1. Icing & Rest
Any injury’s healing process needs a lot of rest. It’s also one of the most common ankle sprain treatments. You should start moving the ankle again when it has healed to decrease stiffness. Ice the ankle for the first 1-2 days following the accident to keep swelling down. Then, use an ice pack or a frozen vegetable bag. For 15-30 minutes at a time, press it on a cloth and the ankle. Do this multiple times a day, if possible. Keep hot objects away from the injured foot, and avoid putting ice directly on your flesh.
Plan to rest the injured region for at least 72 hours/3 days after the incident. For the best results, experts advocate a “three-phase” therapy plan. Minor sprains may be treated in as little as two weeks. It might take up to 6 to 12 weeks for more serious injuries. The length of your rest will be determined by your symptoms and capacity to recuperate. Swimming in a pool and doing band exercises are two of the greatest activities after you’re back on your feet. When you’re ready, you may attempt cycling or utilizing an elliptical machine; however, it’s advisable to see your doctor first.
2. Correct Your Form
Ankle sprains are most common among those who walk or exercise with poor posture and form. This is particularly true when the foot is over-supinated. Over-supinators don’t roll their root inward sufficiently while stepping forward since supination defines the rolling outward action of the foot. Supination is the reverse of pronation of the foot; hence excessive supination is also known as “underpronation” (rolling inward).
Both over-supination and over-pronation exert too much stress on the foot’s bottom and outer edges. Leg discomfort or typical running injuries are widespread as a result of this. Under-pronators/supinators have high arches (the polar opposite of “flat feet” or collapsed arches) and tight Achilles tendons. This prevalent sort of bad form might cause various ailments in addition to spraining your ankle. Hammertoes (clawed toes), Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and iliotibial band syndrome, all of which affect the knees, are examples. It also leads to worse performance due to overall insecurity and weakness.
Another issue is a lack of dorsiflexion in the foot. Supination is the outward rolling action of the foot, while dorsiflexion is the backward bending of the foot. Dorsiflexion reduces the angle between the foot and the ankle, implying that the toes rise up and away from the ground, toward the ankle/body. When bending down, crouching, or springing forward, proper dorsiflexion securely puts the knees over the ankles. Too much dorsiflexion, on the other hand, may be troublesome and contribute to instability. Ankle rolling may be caused by too much motion caused by weakness in the muscles and joints of the foot.
After your original injury heals, here are some recommendations to help you stretch and strengthen your lower legs. They are sprained ankle remedies that will aid in the correction of your form and the prevention of further sprains:
- Come to a gentle landing if you’re walking or sprinting quickly. Instead of landing on the back of your heel, land closer to the center of your foot. Try to land with a generally flat foot, avoiding too much inward or outward bending of the toes.
- To maintain appropriate foot and leg form, raise your cadence somewhat and maybe shorten your stride.
- Maintain an erect stance through your back when running.
- Stretch and mobilize the muscles in your legs before and after your workout—this aids in breaking up adhesions and maintaining appropriate shape. For example, on the floor, you may use a foam roller. Place your body on top of the roller, with the roller beneath your calves, and gently glide back and forth. Also, using a tennis ball beneath the foot, massage the fascia (soft tissue) in the bottoms of the feet.
- Exercises can help you build leg strength. Crab walks (walking in an upside-down “V”), calf lifts, squats, forward bends, and lunges are among the examples.
- As you lie on your back, stretch your lower legs. After that, elevate your legs into the air and flex your ankles back and forth. Alternatively, you may do heel rises by leaning against a wall and tilting your toes back towards your torso. Finally, wrap a resistance band around your ankle (also known as an exercise band) to gently pump and improve ankle flexibility.
3. Make sure your posture and stance are correct
Weak ankles that are prone to rolling might put you at risk for various ailments associated with poor posture. The muscles in the legs and feet are taught to use the outer toes/pinky toes to push the foot away from the ground. These are weak parts of the foot that can’t take a lot of pressure or weight. This may lead to scar tissue development in the lower legs. In addition, postural issues may spread from the legs to the hips, pelvis, and lower back if the legs are weaker.
It’s critical to use injured ankle treatments to improve your posture and stance. Working with a physical therapist or a posture trainer is recommended. They can help you figure out how to manage compensations better and lower your risk of harm. If you have back difficulties, you should seek out an Egoscue Posture Therapist and/or a Spinal Correction Chiropractic specialist (preferably from a facility like the Clear Institute). Because the body is fully connected, weakness and back compensations can travel all the way down to the feet. This is why it is better to fix posture with a whole-body approach.
4. Eat a Collagen-Rich Diet to Reduce Inflammation and Support Joint Health
Although it may seem that diet has little to do with leg problems, your body needs nutrition to maintain your muscles, joints, and ligaments healthy. Several foods are effective natural remedies for injured ankles. The following are the best anti-inflammatory foods that may help mend damaged tissues and decrease swelling in a sprained ankle:
- Collagen’s sources. The most prevalent protein in the human body is collagen. It is required to maintain the strength of all forms of connective tissue. Bone broth is high in collagen and may aid in rehabilitation. It may help treat sprains, strains, and ligament ailments completely. Bone broth also includes amino acids, various minerals, and collagen.
- Lean protein in its purest form. Without adequate protein, the body is unable to repair damaged tissue. Therefore, at least 3-5 ounces of high-quality, organic lean protein should be consumed every meal. Wild-caught seafood and grass-fed beef are two choices.
- Vegetables with green leaves. Antioxidants, vitamin K, and numerous minerals are abundant in kale, broccoli, spinach, and other greens, all of which are necessary for healing.
- Vitamin C-rich foods Vitamin C, for example, aids in the rebuilding of collagen, which is an important component of the skin and tissues. Increase your vitamin C intake by eating more vitamin C-rich foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, and broccoli are all good options. In addition, electrolyte-rich foods, such as magnesium and potassium, may aid expedite recovery and relieve muscular soreness. Coconut water and bananas are two examples.
- Foods that are rich in zinc. Zinc aids chemical processes that aid tissue regeneration and immune system support. Include beef, pumpkin seeds, and spinach in your diet to boost your zinc intake.
- Foods that are high in antioxidants. Free radicals grow as you get older, especially if you’ve been really active or if you’re stressed. They have the potential to harm the whole body. Free radicals have been related to various aging, stress, and weakening symptoms. Increase the amount of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet to avoid free radical damage. Berry, greens, sea veggies, chocolate, green teas, fresh herbs, and other superfoods are among them.
I also advise avoiding foods that might exacerbate or contribute to inflammation, aging symptoms, and slower healing, such as:
- Alcohol. Alcohol promotes bone deterioration and inflammation.
- In addition, there is too much sodium/salt in your diet. Too much salt obstructs healing and depletes vital nutrients in the body.
- Refined grains and sugar These foods should be avoided because they lower immune function and give minimal nutrients for wound healing.
- Fried dishes and hydrogenated oils These foods promote inflammation and impede the healing process.
- There’s too much caffeine in my system. Caffeinated drinks include compounds that bind to calcium. This obstructs absorption and slows the healing process.
5. Look at Tissue Repair Supplements
Nutrients that assist decrease inflammation, enhance tissue healing, and boost growth factors are required to mend injured tissues. I propose using these vitamins as one of the 7 natural sprained ankle remedies to help you recover quicker naturally:
- Bromelain is a kind of enzyme found in pineapple (500 mg 3x daily). Bromelain is a pineapple enzyme that aids in healing and contains anti-inflammatory properties.
- Collagen is a protein that is found in the (take as directed depending on specific product dosage). Collagen is found in tendons and ligaments; therefore, it may aid in healing.
- Omega-3 fatty acids (4g daily). Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, which are essential for wound healing and reducing inflammation induced by an acute injury.
- Powdered green superfood (follow package instructions). Look for a powder that combines nutrient-dense sea veggies and vital minerals that aid in ligament and tissue repair.
- MSM (Mainstream Media) (1000 mg 3x daily). MSM is an anti-inflammatory and a sulfur source, both of which are important for tendon health.
6. Use Prolotherapy and Soft Tissue Therapy to Hasten Healing
Remember that virtually all ankle sprains may be managed without surgery, even if you’re in a lot of pain. Even severe sprains typically recover nicely with careful care and avoidance of future injuries. Take a look at the natural sprained ankle remedies listed below.
Releasing tight muscles and trigger points may help to reduce joint tension and re-establish stability. You may wish to seek treatment from a clinic or specialist specializing in Active Release Technique (ART), Graston Technique (GT), Dry Needling, or Neurokinetic Therapy. These techniques assist in “turning on” muscles that have been “shut off” due to an injury. As a result, they aid in the relief of muscle discomfort and the prevention of subsequent sprains.
I also suggest seeing an orthopedist specializing in prolotherapy or platelet-rich plasma therapies. Prolotherapy treatments have been shown in certain trials to aid with arthritis, tendon ruptures, plantar fasciitis, misalignments, fractures, and ligament injuries in the ankle and foot. Prolotherapy is a treatment that involves injections. It aids in the healing of small rips or damage to connective tissue all throughout the musculoskeletal system (ligaments, tendons, muscle fibers, fascia, and joint capsules). When connective tissue is ripped away from a surrounding bone, it is often harmed. Therefore, Prolotherapy is most often utilized on injuries or disorders that cause persistent pain and don’t react well to other natural or pharmaceutical treatments (non-surgical treatments).
7. Essential Oils for Pain Relief and Swelling
Consider using essential oils. Several essential oils are effective natural remedies for injured ankles. Apply cypress essential oil to the sore ankle to relieve inflammation and promote circulation. Apply frankincense and peppermint essential oils to relieve bruising and inflammation. Combine 2 drops of each oil with 1/2 tsp coconut oil in a small mixing bowl. Apply 3-5 times daily to the sprained area. Then, for 2 minutes, apply a warm compress to the affected region. After the first 24 hours, when the pain is most likely to be at its worst, you may apply this DIY muscle massage on the affected area.
If your ankle is swollen and uncomfortable to walk on, see your doctor straight soon. You most likely have a sprain or tear if you have problems placing weight on your ankle and walking. Don’t dismiss the issue. In many circumstances, medical care is required. It’s also crucial to avoid putting weight on the afflicted foot. This keeps symptoms from becoming worse and more difficult.
Sprains must be treated as soon as possible. If you don’t treat the strained ligament, you’ll end up weakening your ankle in the long run. This makes it more probable that you’ll sustain future injuries, as well as other muscle compensations. In addition, repeated ankle sprains may lead to persistent ankle discomfort, arthritis, balance and stability issues, and even falls.
- Acute ankle injuries are among the most prevalent injuries suffered by children, adults, and the elderly. Sprained ankles are caused by things like ligament overuse, impact, instability, poor form, falling, or limb weakness.
- Pain while placing weight on the ankle or moving, a bruised or swollen ankle, puffiness, redness, heat, and throbbing are all symptoms and indicators of a sprained ankle.
- Resting and icing the ankle, adjusting your form while exercising, strengthening your posture, prolotherapy, and soft tissue therapies are all-natural sprained ankle remedies.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a sprained ankle and its symptoms and treatment?
A: A sprain is a type of injury in which the ligaments stretch or tear, and it typically causes pain that makes your ankle feel swollen. When this happens, you should rest for about six weeks before exercising again. It can also be treated with physical therapy and medication.
What is the most common treatment for an ankle sprain?
A: The most common treatment for an ankle sprain is rest and a brace.
What are the risk factors of sprains?
A: There are several risk factors for sprains. The most common is overuse and injury to the tendon. Tendons can be damaged during strenuous activity or from an awkward sprain of a joint that causes it to hyper-extend. For example, suppose a person’s job requires performing high-impact activities such as jumping. In that case, they may increase their risks of sustaining this type of injury by accidentally landing in one place while performing another activity with different forces on the joints involved.
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