How to Heal a Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankles are common in athletes and people who live an active lifestyle. A sprained ankle refers to when ligaments in the ankle become torn or pulled. Typically, when someone “rolls their ankle” while running or playing sports, it may be painful to bear weight on the foot which points to a sprained ankle injury. If you think you may have sprained your ankle, there are a few at-home remedies that may help to heal the injury.

How to Heal a Sprained Ankle at Home

As with most acute injuries, we encourage patients to start by using the RICE method and seeking first aid. Avoid bearing any weight on the ankle.


Resting the injured ankle will help give your body time to heal. Avoid participating in activities that cause pain or inflammation to the affected area. Limit movement such as walking for a few days to see if the pain gradually subsides.


Ice therapy is a great way to reduce the inflammation caused by a sprained ankle. Use an icepack and make sure to not place it directly on the skin by using a towel underneath. Ice the ankle for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours as needed.


To help stop further swelling, compress the ankle with bandages until the swelling stops. We advise not taking your shoe off after an injury as this helps to compress the ankle and prevent further injury.


Elevate the ankle above heart level by laying down and putting pillows or cushions under your leg.


Recovery after Resting a Sprained Ankle

Once you have given your body a couple of days to rest, mild exercise has been shown to help heal a sprained ankle. Exercise helps increase blood flow, strengthens the muscles around the ankle, and jumpstarts the healing process. Decreasing your activity has been shown to worsen the injury!

What Muscles Should You Strengthen After Spraining Ankle?

Focus on strengthening your calf muscles to help support your ankle. Simple exercises like a calf raise, standing on one foot, and walking help build muscle in your calves and strengthen your ankle. If you feel pain after a week of rest and exercise, it is important to seek medical attention from an orthopedic doctor.

What Stretches Should You Do for a Sprained Ankle?

Stretching before and after exercise helps keep the ligaments lubricated and increases mobility. This will also help if you are feeling sore from your workouts. Ankle circles, Achilles stretches, and standing calf stretches are all great options after spraining your ankle.

Medications for a Sprained Ankle

Our doctors recommend starting with anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) within the first day of injury. This helps to get ahead of the inflammation and prevent further pain. Both pills and topical treatments will help inflammation after a sprained ankle.

When to See a Doctor for a Sprained Ankle?

Depending on the severity of your ankle sprain, it may be best to seek medical attention immediately. Severe swelling, bruising or pain are all good indicators that you should see a doctor. A trip to urgent care or schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor is always recommended for severe ankle sprains to avoid further injury and ensure proper diagnoses.

Our orthopedic doctors in Nashville and Franklin, TN can help treat ankle sprains and are highly trained in injuries of the foot and ankle. You can see our orthopedic foot doctors here and schedule an appointment today by calling 615-324-1600.

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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