How to Quickly Heal an Ankle Sprain
Improve your Proprioceptive Acuity
If you want to speed up healing and recovery time of an ankle sprain or rolled ankle the first place to start is by improving PROPRIOCEPTION. The best way to teach the ankle how to be normal again is through what’s called Proprioceptive Recalibration, a method I’ve focused on for decades.
The video below by Neal Reynolds of the Sports Injury Clinic supports my viewpoint that proprioception is the key to neuromusculoskeletal well-being. Neal discusses how to prevent future ankle injuries and manage the one you might have right now.
One way to achieve proprioceptive realignment or sensory remapping is with the Bosu Ball. The shown one below is from Amazon.
I just rolled my ankle. What should I do?
As soon as you can, apply a compression bandage and get ice all around your ankle. This is especially important during the first 24 hours. The goal is help the body get through the swelling stage quickly. The body swells to decrease activity so this is the time to elevate the ankle and keep it in a rested position. We only want to do things that will decrease the swelling.
Once the swelling is under control, usually 2-3 days, you want to start improving proprioceptive acuity which is tied to balance, coordination and strength. This is the time to encourage guided movement.
We find that our cold laser and LED light therapies reduce both pain and the inflammation of swelling. We also have a series of therapeutic activities and exercises to improve the ankle/food proprioception which is the most important thing you can do on the road to recovering full ankle mobility and function. It’s also what prevents future ankle injuries from occurring.
An uncomplicated ankle sprain takes a good four weeks of therapy before it’s ready to function at full capacity again. Many athletes return to their sport to quickly and are prone to reinjury.
Our Evidence Based Protocol for Healing your Ankle Sprain
Phase 1 First 3 days
Goals = Reduce pain and swelling; improve circulation; check degree of tolerance to weight bearing.
Therapy = Cold Laser, PEMF and early mobilization. Compression. Ice and elevation.
When there is no pain in your ankle at rest you are ready to start Phase 2.
Phase 2 Aprx. Days 4 – 10
Goals = Begin restoring function and activities; improve load-bearing capacities; prevent increase of inflammation; prevent muscle atrophy.
Therapy = Cold Laser, PEMF, Proprioceptive recalibration therapies, Stair-Stepping or slant board. Kinesio-taping.
You move to Phase 3 when your ankle is fully weight bearing, there is no increased swelling with activity and your gait pattern is normal – no limp.
Phase 3 Aprx. Days 11 – 21
Goals = Improve muscle strength, range of motion, and functional stability.
Therapy = Cold Laser, PEMF, full weight bearing exercise if possible, increasingly difficult proprioceptive recalibration, tape for sports or other strenuous activities.
Start Phase IV when you have no swelling, can balance on the injured ankle for 60 seconds, have full range of motion and can jump/jog without pain.
Phase 4 Aprx. 3 – 6 Weeks
Goals = Increase load bearing, improve balance and coordination, improve strength.
Therapy = Jumping/hopping drills, continued proprioceptive programming. Tape for sports.
Start Phase V when you can single leg hop on the injured leg 80% as much as you can with non-injured leg. Want to be at 5/5 strength in all motions of the ankle. You have the ability to run in a straight line with normal gait pattern.
Phase 5 Return to Sport
Goals: Achieve activity related load bearing. Design sport specific therapy and training program.
Therapy: Continue increasing load bearing to pre-injury ability is attained. Agility drills. Sport specific strengthening. Daily proprioception activities.