Here's what to do and take in the first 3 days

Now that we are hitting winter, the body is a little stiffer, winter sport is in full swing and many of us are out every Saturday and Sunday with our teammates in the cold. Our winter sports season usually involves loads of change of direction and collision of bodies (or tree roots for those runners in Centennial Park). It is no surprise then at this time we also get a massive spike in the rate of sprained ankles.

For some reason the poor old ankle sprain doesn’t get the respect it deserves when compared to the knee, back or neck. I don’t understand why. It is such an amazing joint complex and when it works well gives you that explosive ability to change direction quickly or transfer force beautifully to improve running efficiency and economy.

If you don’t treat a sprained ankle with respect and manage the injury properly your sporting performance is greatly reduced, your running becomes inefficient and your body compensates around it putting you in high risk of injuring something further up the chain.

In the event you sprain your ankle, If you read the following you will come a long way in greatly reducing the time you are out and promoting a great environment for which your body can repair the damage done in the quickest amount of time possible.

Ok, so disaster has struck.

You were running along and landed in a pothole, side of the curb or someone else’s leg. You hobble home and want to know what do you do next??

Follow the acronym P.R.I.C.E.M immediately after injury for the first 48-72 hours.


Brace or tape the ankle to allow forward and backwards movement but limit sideways movement (scroll down to learn how to tape your ankle).

This sideways movement generally puts stress on the recently damaged ligaments whose job is to protect you from this movement. The reality is you won’t get any healing of these ligaments until after 3 days and even after that it is still very weak. So limit these movements as much as possible. Of course, you want to twist your ankle around to see if it still hurts but try and refrain so you can regenerate some nice healthy scar tissue. Instructions on how we tape ankles after a sprain further down below.


Avoid prolonged standing or walking. Normally at this point, it is very swollen. REST. Again because you have no new tissue laid down for the first 3 days limit the damage done. If you have a busy day planned reconsider it for a season of Game of Thrones on the couch. Especially if you love training and want to get back to it as soon as possible.


Apply ice to the injured area for 15-20 minutes every 3 waking hours with the leg elevated to reduce swelling and pain. It has been proven time and time again in studies to reduce pain so do it.


Apply an elastic bandage or tubing when you are not icing your ankle.  This is quite often forgotten. It still amazes me when a patient comes in that has compressed their ankle for 3 days how much better it looks and how much more we can do early to get rehab started if compression has been used versus no compression. Don’t sleep with the compression but whenever weight bearing or ESPECIALLY when sitting at your desk use a compression bandage.


Lie flat and elevate the leg to an angle of 30 degrees often. This is another game changer. Remember if you are sitting up and your foot is on an adjacent chair this is NOT elevation. Your leg must be above your heart on a couple of pillows with you flat on your back for it to drain effectively.


  • Avoid anti-inflammatories. The inflammatory response is a necessary part of healing in the early stages of an injury and should not be retarded. Taking anti-inflammatories such as Voltaren or Neurofen after an acute injury can slow the healing process.
  • Avoid aspirin based painkillers as they thin the blood and increase bleeding
  • Avoid alcohol as it dilates the blood vessels and will increase bleeding and swelling. A large night at the Beach Road Hotel after an ankle sprain is a sure fire way to rapidly increase your swelling and prolong your recovery time.
  • Take panadol for pain if required.

** If you are unable to take weight on your foot you need to get an X-ray as soon possible.



Write the alphabet in the air with your foot (not your whole leg) to move your foot into all ranges and avoid stiffness at the ankle.


Heel slides

  • Place your foot on the ground and pull it back towards you to gain ankle bend, push your foot forwards keeping it on the ground to gain ankle forward movement.
  • You can use a plastic bag under your foot to reduce friction on carpet or socks and talcum powder on floorboards or tiles.

Gastrocnemius Stretch

  • With your weight supported, lunge forwards, keeping the back
  • Knee straight and the heel on the ground, move into a lunge position until a gentle stretch is felt in the calf
  • Hold 30 sec
  • Repeat x 2
  • Twice daily

Soleus Stretch

  • Keep the heel of the back foot on the floor with the foot pointing straight ahead. Bend the knees forwards.

  • Hold 30 sec

  • Repeat X 2

  • Twice daily


Taping is used to protect the injury and prevent recurrence on return to activity


  • Lie on your back with the lower leg half off the end of the bed.
  • Position your foot so that the outside of your foot pulled towards you the whole time it is being taped.


  • Anchor: Begin with an anchor around the circumference of the leg about one third up the shin. Lay the tape on without firm pull. Direction – ends point upwards
  • Stirrups: Apply 2-3 stirrups from the inside of the leg, beginning at the anchor to under the heel and firmly pull up to the anchor on the outside of the leg.
  • Figure 6: Apply 2-3 “figure sixes” beginning from the inside again, under the heel and firmly pull across the ankle back to the inside of the leg.
  • Anchor: Finish the taping by re-anchoring around the circumference of the leg over the ends of the stirrups and sixes.

Taping yourself

Place the outside of your foot on the edge of a chair so the outside of the foot is lifted up towards you. Follow the above technique from this position.

We love getting you back on the field or prepared for your race. So if you are worried about your ankle call us on (02) 9158 0330 or email us at to start the road to recovery today!