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Sprained Ankles

Sprained ankles


Sprained ankles are a musculoskeletal injury which could happen to anyone in a variety of different scenarios. An athlete may sprain their ankle during a sporting activity (such as a swift dummy in a rugby game). Alternatively, the average person could suffer an ankle sprain by stepping down from a higher surface at an angle or standing on an uneven surface.

As the ankle has various bones congregating in the form of a joint, it requires numerous joints to connect each of the bones. A sprained ankle is a ligament tear which causes blood vessels to leak fluid to the tissue surrounding the joint. This results in white blood cells which are responsible for inflammation to respond and travel to the area. This causes swelling, a throbbing pain and sometimes bruising of the joint. As a general rule of thumb, the more pain there is, the more severe the ankle sprain is.

Different types of ankle sprains The severity of ankle sprains range from mild to severe. This is classified by 3 grades:

  1. Grade 1 – There is minimal swelling due to slight stretching and a little bit of damage to the ligament.
  2. Grade 2 – Slightly more swelling than Grade 1. This is due to some of the ligaments tearing (but not all of them) which also results in a decreased range of motion.
  3. Grade 3 – The ligament completely tears which results in severe swelling and instability.


The type of treatment which a patient needs to undergo depends on which grade ankle sprain they are suffering from.


If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from a sprained ankle and don’t want to seek medical assistance (although we do suggest consulting a GP), it is possible to treat it from home if you follow the R.I.C.E system:

R – Rest. The most important thing to do if you think you have a sprained ankle is to rest it and not put any weight on the ankle injury. For grade 2 or 3 injuries it may be worth investing in an ankle brace too such as the Bodymedics Deluxe Ankle Brace.

I – Ice. As a large amount of the pain derives from inflammation of the joint, it is important to try and reduce the swelling as much as possible. Applying ice for around 30 minutes 4 times a day will help decrease the increased blood flow to the ankle sprain. As you don’t want further injury in the form of frost bite, it is important to combine the ice with wrapping such as the CoolWrap Ankle Ice Pack.

C – Compression. Once the ankle swelling has slightly reduced it is important to provide the ankle with the support required to immobilise the joint. For grade 2 injuries you may also need a brace such as the Bodymedics Stabilised Ankle Brace to help put weight on it. For grade 3 injuries you may need to see a doctor who would recommend a short leg cast for around 3 weeks.

E – Elevation. The ankle needs to be elevated above the heart level.

If you do decide you want to consult your GP, you may find that they suggest the R.I.C.E process. However, they may also prescribe some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS) to help reduce the swelling.


For grade 2 and grade 3 ankle sprains it may be necessary to undergo rehabilitation exercises to help reduce the pain and prevent chronic problems in the future. For extensive information on rehabilitation for a sprained ankle then consult a physical therapist.

Once you have completed the resting period they may start you off on a programme that consists of exercises with an active range of motion without any resistance. Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain this can either be land based strengthening exercises or water based strengthening exercises.

Eventually you will return to activities that don’t require twisting or turning. Over time, once the ankle has had sufficient time to strengthen, you will be able to attempt activities with sharp cutting movements such as basketball. The time of the rehabilitation completely depends on the severity of the sprained ankle and the patient themselves.

Avoiding ankle sprains

Obviously accidents such as slipping on a curb and spraining your ankle are unavoidable, but for sporting activities there are steps you can take to help prevent ankle sprains.

The main precaution to take is to wear appropriate footwear for the sporting activity. For example by wearing the correct shoes for road running can help reduce the probability of an ankle sprain (not to mention other injuries such as shin splints).

In addition to this, sports players can either tape weak ankles or wear ankle supports during their games to help reduce the chance of a sprained ankle.

Personal experience

If you are suffering from a sprained ankle then let us know over on Facebook. It would be good to get a discussion going about the most successful rehabilitation exercises you have done.

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