Ankle injuries are not just painful; they are also extremely debilitating. Nonetheless, it’s important you take action ASAP to aid with the recovery process.
This is an old standby but an important one. The moment you know you’ve injured your ankle, get a cold compress on it. Due to its location and the nature of its job, the ankle is going to swell regardless of what you do. However, you want to minimize that swelling as much as you possibly can.
Let It Rest
It’s going to be difficult to rest your ankle given how much you use it, but it’s necessary. Try to stay off it as much as you can to let it heal. Elevate it to keep the pain at bay. This will also go a long way toward the goal of keeping swelling down.
Treating a Sprained Ankle
For common sprains (known as grade one sprains), the above protocol will work, but you must stick to it as strictly as possible for the first two or three days. This is vital for making a quick recovery. The more you ignore the above advice, the longer it will take to heal and the greater your risk for suffering a far worse injury.
If your sprain is more than a grade two, you’re going to need some kind of splint or boot following the aforementioned steps.
Ligament injuries generally need a cast or splint, too. You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs to help with the pain. Eventually, you’ll require doctor-directed physical therapy to help with healing. In some cases, surgery will be necessary.
Given the vital role the ankle plays in all forms of lower body movement, the main goal with using kinesiology tape is to provide support. You can still tape the painful areas where you’d like a little help escaping the constant hurt you’re feeling, but make sure you tape with an eye for support, too.
Begin with your ankle in a neutral or 90-degree position. At first, just tear a little bit off on one end.
Then you want to wrap the tape under the heel on the inside using the end that hasn’t been exposed, yet. Apply the actual sticky end of the tape at the base of the ankle. At this point, you should only have one point of contact with the sticky end – at the base of the ankle – while the rest is now hanging loose.
Apply pressure so the sticky end attaches and then peel more and continue with the pressure down the side of the ankle to the base of the foot. At that point, stretch the tape to about 50%. Later, you might decide more or less is necessary, but this is a good baseline. Go up and under the heel, continuously peeling the paper from the tape and then attaching the other end of it to the other side of the ankle. Don’t stretch the last half of the tape for the final application.
When you’re done, you should have a “U” shape that cradles the bottom of your foot and attaches to both sides of the heel.
Finish that piece by rubbing the tape to provide some heat and ensure adhesion.
You’re now going to add another layer of tape. This time, the “U’ shape is going to cradle the ankle right above the heel so the longest points are running alongside the foot. Again, use 50% stretch initially. There should be enough tape to run under the foot, which will help keep the application in place when you start moving.
The last piece of tape is going solely around the heel. Start on one side of the foot and attach it. Then wrap it over the heel and under it before attaching it to the other side of the foot. This piece should have no stretch.
When you’re done with these three applications, almost the entire back half of the foot should be covered in tape.
No matter what kind of ankle injury you have – even a minor one – you’re going to need to do some rehabilitation. As we mentioned earlier, in some cases, it will have to come from a doctor.
However, for more mild cases, apply kinesiology tape as we directed and try to put weight on it within a few days. It won’t be a comfortable experience, but as long as you’re not in serious pain, do some stretches. Work up to doing very lightweight exercises to aid the muscle’s rehabilitation, too.
Injuring your ankle can have a number of consequences, the most common being that your ability to move around is going to be greatly hindered. If you stick to the above advice, though, and speak with a doctor, you may actually be surprised by how quickly you recover.