Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
I sprained my ankle two months ago playing volleyball. I can hike on level surfaces, but side-to-side motion—typical of backpacking—hurts. I wear a lace-up cast when hiking. Should I stay off it, or use therapy and exercise to strengthen it?
Submitted by – Steve, Hull, MA
Short answer: If it hurts, don’t do it. Pain, in this case, means you need more healing time. My guess is you’ll benefit from a regimen of ibuprofen, applications of cold, and using the ankle but not to the point of pain. As it strengthens, you can increase the work on the ankle, still stopping short of pain.
Two months, by the way, is not an unusual amount of time for a bad sprain to cause pain. Continued use of the lace-up is probably a good idea. If you don’t see improvement, I suggest a visit to a therapist.