How to Recover Fastest from a Sprained Ankle or Knee

Recovering from a Sprained Ankle or Knee

Sprained Ankle or Knee Injuries

Getting a sprained ankle or knee is not only painful, but irritating as well. Often the injury happens with simple movements like rolling on one’s foot. And since the injury itself was done instantaneously, one often assumes that the healing process can take a similar timeframe. It doesn’t help when asking a doctor on ways to shorten the healing time of a sprained ankle or knee and they respond with: “One way to shorten the knee sprain healing time is to prevent sprains in the first place.” Physicians, this is the quickest way to get punched in the face.

The bad news is that healing takes time. The good news is that if care is done properly, that time can be shortened considerably. Here’s how:

R.I.C.E. is Nice

To begin, almost every doctor or physical therapist will advise that an injured person use the R.I.C.E. Treatment. R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This will help to reduce swelling and alleviating pain.

  • Rest: It is most important to reduce one’s activities to a bare minimum during the first day or two after the injury. Using crutches will help. Then gradually put weight on the foot. When pain comes, back off. Patients should continue using the crutches until they can walk without a limp.
  • Ice: One should ice the injured area as soon as possible, but don’t leave the ice pack on for long periods of time. The ice pack should be wrapped in a towel and allowed to rest on the ankle or knee for 20 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite. Repeat the process up to eight times during the first 24 hours. For the next day or two, ice the area every four hours as needed.
  • Compression: Using an Ace bandage or sports tape can be helpful as well. Wrap the ankle from the toes up to the top part of the calf overlapping the wrap by half of the wrap’s width. When wrapping the knee, start rolling over the top of the kneecap for the first loop then go under the kneecap for the second and continue toward the center. The wrap should be snug but not so tight that it cuts off circulation.
  • Elevate: It is also important to keep the leg elevated as much as possible during the first two days after the injury. Doctors recommend keep the leg elevated above one’s heart, but that isn’t always possible or practical. This will aid in reducing the swelling and spending up the recovery process.

Start to Move

When pain and swelling subsides, it is good idea to try do some range-of-motion type of activity to help get the blood flowing, will stretch the muscles and give some relief from muscle stiffness. Usually, doctors will recommend the people with ankle injuries to try to “write” their name or the alphabet with their big toe. This helps to get the ankle moving in all directions. For knee injuries, in addition to the first exercise, try to bend the knee open and close.

Build Up Strength

Basic stretching can take up to two weeks or longer depending on how severe the injury is. Once a person can move their ankle or knee without pain they can begin to build up their strength. This can be done by using resistance bands while performing toe raises and lunges. As a person’s strength improves, they can begin using stronger resistance bands. At this stage, athletes can benefit from performing sport-specific endurance and agility exercises. These exercise can include cutting, pivoting or jumping.

Soon, the patient can slowly return back to their daily routines, but those who play sports may have to wait it out a bit longer depending on the advice their doctor gives. Often, athletes will rush through this last part of recuperation or will skip it altogether. This can make the body vulnerable to another injury.

How does one know when one can resume their regular sports routine? When there is no more swelling, the joints can move smoothly and the strength of the joint has returned.

“The best advice an athlete can use is to focus their attention on the next step in their recovery rather than on the final goal of returning to sports,” says Jonathan Cluett, MD. “In order for someone to return to an athletic event, they first need to be able to weight-bear on the extremity.” (Very Well Health)

Prevention from It Happening Again

To prevent another sprain from happening, experts suggests keeping one’s weight in a healthy range, avoid exercising when one is tired and when one does exercise, be sure to warm up well ahead of time.

Sources: –

Very Well Health –

Image Credits:

Woman and knee injury [ID 97716963 © Ronnie Wu |]

Ankle injury [ID 62761237 © Błażej Łyjak |]