Health and Wellbeing

How to heal a sprained ankle: physio tips for a faster recovery

Jun 10 2022

Whether you roll your ankle on the sports field or a cobbled street, sprained ankles can happen to the best of us. No matter where it happened, how you treat your injury in the first few days can help reduce pain and speed up recovery. Bodyset Physiotherapist, Ana Ungureanu shares her top tips for a faster sprained ankle recovery.

What is a sprained ankle?

A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that support your ankle stretch beyond their limits, and tear. The amount of ligaments involved, and the severity of their damage will dictate how much pain you experience.

How to recognise a sprained ankle

The symptoms for a sprained ankle vary depending on the degree of your injury. You may experience some or all the below symptoms:

  • Pain while resting and bearing weight
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Instability
  • Bruising
  • Swelling

Most sprains heal with the treatments and exercises, like those detailed below. However, if your ankle remains swollen or painful for more than 48 hours then we advise you seek a professional Physiotherapy Assessment, for you may have experienced a more advanced injury.

Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. (R.I.C.E)

RICE treatment, or RICE therapy, is the immediate application of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to a minor soft tissue injury like an ankle sprain. It’s an effective first-response treatment designed to manage swelling, pain, and blood flow.

RICE treatment involves four key steps:

Rest. Protect your ankle sprain from further injury by taking pressure off your ankle for 24 hours to 48 hours.

Ice. To minimise swelling and pain, apply pack of ice or a good old-fashioned bag of peas to the painful area for 20 minutes, two to three times a day for 24 hours to 48 hours. To avoid cold burns, wrap the ice in towel or cloth or apply over clothing.

Compression. To further reduce swelling caused by your ankle sprain, compress the injury by wrapping it firmly (but not too tight!) with an elastic bandage. Remove the compression after 48 to 72 hours.

Elevation. Lastly, elevate your sprained ankle to heart level or above to allow your blood to cycle through your injury and back towards the heart. Elevation helps to prevent further swelling and pain.

Foam roller recovery exercises for ankle sprains

After 24 – 48 hours, you should be able to bear weight without acute pain. If you are still in pain, we recommend getting in touch with a physiotherapist for a detailed Physiotherapy Assessment.  

If the pain has reduced and you are able to bear weight, then grab a foam roller or pillow to start returning some mobility to the injured area. Here’s more from Bodyset Physiotherapist, Ana…


Heel raises for sprained ankle rehab

Once you have returned mobility to your ankle, it’s important to increase strength to speed up recovery and prevent a repeated injury! Here’s how…

The above are just a few examples of exercises and treatments you can use to recover from a sprained ankle. However, if your injury feels more severe, or is taking longer to recover than you would like, then please get in touch to book an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists.

Still in pain?

Book in for a Physiotherapy Assessment with one of our expert physiotherapists. We’ll get you feeling better in no time with a sound diagnosis, hands-on therapy and a roadmap to long-lasting recovery.