When To Start Running After A Sprained Ankle
Injuries, especially ones that put you out for a few days, can be a massive blow to your running training. Not only that, your regular dose of endorphins decline, which can cause boredom and depression to set in.
Lucky there are plenty of strategies to help you return to running and jumpstart your motivation again.
In this article, we discuss a strategy that can help you start back running again after a sprained ankle. It will also give you a firm idea of when you can start running again after a sprained ankle.
Step 1: Heal first
After an ankle sprain, it is important to invest time in healing. Otherwise, you may find your recovery time lengthens. The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is one of the most effective ways to treat a strain in the first 24 hours. By following the RICE protocol you can help reduce swelling and pain, as well as speed up the healing process. These first 24 hours can rapidly decrease the recovery time if followed properly.
Just remember there are three different types of sprains. If you are unsure of the type of sprain you have, reach out to a doctor or physiotherapist. They can help diagnose the type of strain you have.
Step 2: Restore the Ankle’s Range of Motion
Once the swelling has reduced, and you can stand on your feet without any pain, it is time to improve the range of motion in the ankle again.
To do this, focus on simple range of motion exercises such as flexing and elevating your foot, then move into exercises that promote foot rotation. You can do this simply by drawing the alphabet with your foot elevated.
Step 3: Restore Basic Strength in the Ankle
Once you have the full range of movement back in the ankle, and you have no problem walking, it is time to strengthen the ankle again. Simple exercises like calf raises, or ankle extensions with an elastic band or towel are a great way to improve ankle strength.
Step 4: Return to Running
Once you have improved your ankle’s range of motion and done some simple strength exercises without pain, you should be able to start light running. It is important not to overdo it during the first few weeks back running. Otherwise, you may find pain or swelling returns.
Start with some short runs or walk-run combinations. Doing so will help build strength, and mobility to prevent any symptoms from returning. Slowly increase the running each week until you are back to your original mileage.
Step 5: Continue to Strengthen Your Ankle
When an injury heals many runners forget to continually strengthen the injured area and surrounding muscles. this is important, as it can help to prevent the injury from occurring again in the future.
At this point of the process, you should start focusing on isometric exercises which push against resistance while keeping a fixed range of motion. Once you have done a period of isometric exercises, you can then start to progress to isotonic exercises. Isotonic exercises use your ankle’s range of motion while adding resistance.
This phase of the recovery is super important if you regularly run on trails. As these exercises will prevent another sprain ankle from happening again.
With any type of injury, it is important to take your time recovering. Trying to speed up the process can increase the chances of delayed recovery. Because running is a high-impact sport it is important to allow full recovery before starting running again. Even if you feel ok walking, it is important to either check the status of your ankle by running or hopping single-legged on the spot. Both are a great way to see if all pain has subsided.