I was scared that I broke it even though I still played for another half hour after the initial sprain. Once I decided it was enough, I left home, took a shower, and then started treating it.
I searched around the web trying to figure out how I should go about dealing with this ankle sprain. In the meantime, I defaulted for R.I.C.E.
You know: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
I thought to myself that if anything should work, it would be that. I mean, it’s recommended by every doctor for every injury and it’s been here for long, it should work.
After 20 minutes of icing, I couldn’t stand for my life and had the ankle mobility of a rock. Right then and there, I knew this R.I.C.E crap wasn’t going to work and I told that ice pack to go fuck itself.
Mind you, this just like a few weeks after I had sprained my other ankle during a sparring session where I also did the same. I don’t know why I thought it would work this time around but whatever.
My ankles are where I suffer most of my injuries, which sucks because I like to kick off heads for fun. Fortunately, during that time I asked some other coaches for help on ankle injuries. That plus my past experience in dealing with this situation has led me to my current “re-hab” program for myself.
As I write this article, I’m still in the re-hab process with my right ankle but it’s been my most successful re-hab program ever. In just 2 weeks I can do just about anything except rapid changes in direction and explosive movements. In just 1 week, I was able to squat my bodyweight without any pain, so it’s worked real nicely.
I think I’m still a good 3 weeks out from being completely healed, which is still incredibly quick considering it usually takes longer and this particular strain was really bad.
So here is how I’m handling this problem:
This is naturally the first step for most people, especially since it’s the first step of R.I.C.E. With the amount of pain I felt after icing it, the LAST thing I wanted to do was stand.
If something hurts, don’t do it.
I would alternate between rest and test. Once every 10 minutes or so, I would try to stand up and stand on one leg. If it hurt, I rest some more. If it didn’t, I would start number two.
In my experience, this usually takes me 30min to 1 hour before I feel confident enough that I can move onto the next step.
2. Increase Range of Motion
In my opinion, this is the most important step as it is what makes difference between an injury that can last weeks to one that last just days, depending on the severity.
Basically, I would just sit on a chair or bed and repeatedly performed dorsi and planter flexion exercises. In the beginning, just a small ROM would suffice. Over the course of a day I would increase that ROM to the fullest.
Again, I let pain dictate when and how to progress.
I unfortunately had to go to school, which includes a lot of walking. Although I felt a lot better by then and I could walk with just an ounce of pain, I put on a brace.
It helped as I walked a lot. I probably would have been sore going 5 days straight of walking in school without the brace on.
Either way, it helped me still move around without the need of crutches.
4. Low Intensity Activity
My ankle started feeling better the more I walked with the brace. Essentially, I realized that walking was just a “loaded” version of the dorsi and plantar flexion exercises I did just a few days earlier.
On top of that, I also made it a point to write the alphabet with my feet. Although it was hard at first, it eventually got easier and with less pain.
I did this for 2 weeks (no brace the second week – which is where I am at right now).
5. Strength Training
In conjunction with the low intensity stuff, I knew that if ever wanted to get better faster, then I needed to put some more weight on my ankle.
About one week after the initial injury, I couldn’t run without pain. It sucked, yet I still tried to box squat with my bodyweight (about 170 lb). I felt no pain at all.
It was just an experiment, but it worked so I knew it was time to start some lower body exercises again.
I once again got back into my workout routine with some full ROM prisoner squats, calf raises, resistance band work and lunges (I’m careful with those as sometimes it hurts).
That is where I am at right now and it’s working great.
I learned a lot of this through Mike Guadango, Anthony Mychal, and Dick Hartzell. I realized that the old R.I.C.E technique we all trust actually sucks, at least for ankle sprains.
Right now I can run in a straight line, I can jump too (mostly) and other stuff like walk and squat without pain.
If you’re like me, try this method out instead of R.I.C.E. I’m sure you’ll get much better results this way.