What is the fastest way to recover for hiking from a sprained ankle? What exercises can I do to strengthen my ankle muscles?
Submitted by - Jnoel - Opelousas, LA
Nothing beats a full-on physical therapy program with a professional therapist. Here is a short, general therapeutic program:
Bear no weight on the ankle for first 24 hours. Use RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) several times a day for about 20 minutes each time. After the first 24 hours, start weight bearing as soon as you can—but not your whole body weight! You might need a cane or crutches. You'll feel some pain, but the pain should not be excessive. Wrap your ankle in an elastic wrap and keep it wrapped between applications of RICE. Work up weight bearing until you can walk with a normal heel to toe gait. And keep up the RICE, several times per day, until all swelling is gone. When you can walk normally you are ready for retraining and hitting the trail. You may also benefit from ibuprofen following the directions on the label.
I think the best ankle strengthening exercises are done with you sitting on something that allows your legs to dangle. Tie a rope to a weight, about five pounds to start, and tie the other end to your foot near your toes. Push your ankle through full range of motion movement, as many reps as you can. Add weight and reps as you can.