How to Treat a Minor Ankle Sprain & Still Play Sports
Ankle sprains are some of the most common injuries in sports, especially frequent in sports that involve lateral movement such as basketball, soccer and football 1. Because the ligaments and tendons in your ankle are weakened with every sprain, the risk of re-injury grows with each sprain. Some ankle sprains are minor, and you will need only a little medical treatment to return quickly to the sport you were playing.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Follow the acronym RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. This is commonly used for all types of ankle sprains, and proper care can help a minor ankle sprain heal even quicker. Elevate your foot to help minimize swelling, and add ice and a compression wrap to fight swelling as well as bruising. Resting the ankle gives you time for your ankle to heal as well.
How to Walk on a Sprained Ankle
Use proper support when returning to play. If your ankle sprain is only minor, many times taping your ankle or putting on a brace will give you the extra support you need to finish playing. Pain might still be present, but these two options will give you the stability you need to keep playing. Have an athletic trainer tape your ankle, if you are unfamiliar how to do so.
Stretch your ankle and take it through full range of motion exercises. Even minor swelling can cause your ankle to stiffen up, so if you want to continue playing sports you will need to get rid of that stiffness. Sit on a table and draw the alphabet with your toes as a range of motion exercise, and stretch out your Achilles' tendon and calf muscles as well. You can also perform isometric exercises to help strengthen your ankle. Push on a well with the outside of your foot for 30 seconds, and then flip around and push with the inside of your foot. Any stretching and strengthening exercises you can do will be helpful for even minor sprains.
Consult a doctor or athletic trainer to ensure it is safe to return to action after an ankle sprain.
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- Dr. Pribut's Running Injuries Page; Lateral Ankle Sprains -- A Common Sports Injury; Stephen M. Pribut
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Sprained Ankle
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- Robati S, Porter K, Shahid M, Crompton T, Sandiford N. Ankle osteomyelitis: an unusual presentation. JRSM Short Rep. 2013;4(6):35. doi:10.1177/2042533313476682.
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- Mascard E, Gaspar N, Brugières L, Glorion C, Pannier S, Gomez-brouchet A. Malignant tumours of the foot and ankle. EFORT Open Rev. 2017;2(5):261-271. doi:10.1302/2058-5241.2.160078
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- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Sprained Ankle. Reviewed February 2016.
- Arthritis Foundation. Lab Tests for Diagnosing Ankle Problems.
- Merck Manual. Professional Version. Cellulitis. Reviewed September 2019.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Compartment Syndrome. Reviewed October 2009.
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle.
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Sprained Ankle.
- Koehler SM, Eiff P. (2018). Overview of Ankle Fractures in Adults. Asplund CA, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
- Mascard E, Gaspar N, Brugieres L, Glorion C, Pannier S, Gomez-Brouchet A. Malignant tumours of the foot and ankle. EFORT Open Rev. 2017 May;2(5):261-71.
- Robati S, Porter K, Shabid M, Crompton T, Sandiford N. Ankle osteomyelitis: An unusual presentation. JRSM Short Rep. 2013 Jun;4(6):35.
Chris Callaway started writing professionally in 2007 and has worked as sports editor, managing editor and senior editor of "The Racquet" as well as written for the "La Crosse Tribune" and other newspapers in western Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications.