Effective Natural Remedies That Work to Heal a Sprained Ankle

how to treat a sprained ankle

Can you guess which is the most notoriously wobbly part of the human body? It’s a small joint that people hardly pay attention to until it arm-twists its way into a sprain (pun intended). Yes, we’re talking about the ankle.

The ankle comprises of three main bones: tibia, talus, and fibula.  In fact, the human foot may seem small and petite, but it consists of 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments!

So it only makes sense to take better care of this super-useful part of the body that allows us to walk, dance, play sports, jump, and literally move forward in life. That said, it is seen that most people experience a sprained or twisted ankle at least once in their lifetime.

In fact, it is one of the most common sports injuries in the United States with around 2 million people getting affected every year. The next common cause of a sprained ankle can be attributed to those high-heels that sit beautifully in your shoe cabinet.

Other common causes include excessive use of your ligament, instability due to high-impact activities, such as dancing, sports, poor form or posture, excessive falling, or leg weakness.

So this brings us to the next question: What is a sprained ankle? As the name suggests, an ankle gets injured (sprained) when it is twisted or turned in an uncomfortable or awkward manner.

Typically, the ligaments that hold the ankle bones together get affected the most. The general symptoms may range from excessive pain and swelling to the inability to move around and bruises/puffiness.

In terms of the treatment options available, there’s resting the ankle, ice compression, consuming ibuprofen, casts, and even undergoing surgery if the pain worsens with time.

The best part about a sprained ankle is that it can easily be treated at home. To make things convenient for you, we’ve listed top home-remedies and natural measures you can take on how to treat a sprained ankle. So let’s get the ball rolling.

Did You Know?

Until World War II, “pretty ankle”competitions were conducted in the UK according to Mashable(1).

How To Treat A Sprained Ankle Using Natural Remedies

CURE 1: Essential Oils For Sprained Ankle

Often times when we think of how to care for a sprained ankle, we think of OTC medicines and more aggressive treatment options.

However, there are better and more natural alternatives readily available to us in the form of essential oils.

These aromatic oils come in handy for providing all-round relief and reducing swelling. So let’s look at the top-5 essential oils you can try if you’re struggling with a sprained ankle.

Important: Please do a skin patch test before applying these oils as a  precautionary measure. This step is extremely essential to avoid any unknown rashes/allergies that you may have.

1. Frankincense Oil

Frankincense Oil
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does This Work?

Frankincense oil works best towards reducing bruising and decreasing inflammation.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can mix 2 drops of each of the Frankincense and Peppermint oils with 1/2 tsp of cold-pressed coconut oil. Apply to the affected area 3x daily. Follow up with a warm compress for 2 minutes for a speedy recovery.

2. Chamomile Oil

Why Does This Work?

Chamomile contains Azulene which offers anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, it acts as a disinfecting agent and aids in reducing swelling.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

Take a bucket and fill it with warm water. Add around 5-10 drops of chamomile oil. Now dip your feet in it for as long as the water stays warm and feel immediate relief. You can repeat this process 3x a day. Alternatively, you can add 1-2 drops of pure chamomile oil on the affected area and massage gently. Follow up with a hot compress bag for added relief.

Note: The German Chamomile variant is preferred over the Roman one for treating ankle sprains.

[Read: Essential Oils for Joint Pain]

3. Lavender Oil

Why Does This Work?

Lavender comes with anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties, making it a preferred choice for treating any kind of pain.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

Similar to the use of chamomile oil, you can fill a tub with warm/cold water and add two drops of lavender oil and 1 drop each of lemon and geranium oil.

In case, you don’t have the other two oils mentioned here, you can simply take only the lavender oil and soak your feet in it and let it relax for about 10 minutes.

If you repeat this three times a day, you’ll notice that the swelling and pain has reduced considerably.

4. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does This Work?

This sweet, minty oil contains “menthol” which offers the following healing properties: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, stimulating, and cooling effects.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can add 5-8 drops of Peppermint oil in 30 ml of jojoba oil or any unscented organic lotion of your choice and there, your stimulating foot cream is ready! Massage with this thrice a day to reap its benefits.

Conversely, you can heat 1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil. Note that the oil should be hot but not very hot. Then, add 8-10 drops each of lavender and peppermint oil and massage onto the affected area.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Why Does This Work?

Tea tree oil offers dual benefits as it comes with antiseptic and antibacterial properties, making it extremely useful for treating the swelling of rolled ankles.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can take 1-2 drops of tea tree oil in your hands and massage gently with outward strokes on the affected area. This process can be repeated twice a day.

[Read: Benefits of Tea Tree Oil]

CURE 2: Foods For Sprained Ankle

Who knew that following a specific kind of diet that’s complemented by healing-food items can actually help deal with an ankle sprain? The logic is simple. Your body needs essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep your muscles, ligaments, and joints strong, and that’s where diet comes into play. If you’re wondering about how to treat a sprained ankle with food and whether it actually works, keep reading.

1. Bone Broth

Bone Broth or soup
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Bone broth is a nutrient-dense food item that serves as a rich source of amino acids, minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, etc.), and most importantly collagen.

Collagen, essentially, doubles up as the abundant protein in the body required to keep the connective tissues healthy and strong. These nutrients ensure a speedy recovery and aid in the complete healing of ankle sprains.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can prepare a bone broth from beef, chicken, fish, lamb, etc. which is tasty, can be easily digested, and ensures complete healing. There are hundreds of recipes available online for you to pick and choose from. The general procedure for preparing a bone broth goes something like this:

  1. You place the bones into a pot or cooker and fill it with water.
  2. Then, before you start cooking, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the water.
  3. Heat the mixture slowly and bring to a boil.
  4. Then, let it simmer for at least six hours on low heat but make sure to remove the fat as it arises.
  5. Finally, add in vegetables of your choice, such as onions, garlic, carrots, and celery, for added taste and additional nutritional value.

[Read: Benefits of Bone Broth]

2. Broccoli, Kale, Spinach

Why Does It Work?

Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, etc. come power-packed with antioxidants, vitamin K, and multiple minerals that can speed up healing and boost your immunity.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can consume these vegetables in any form – be it soups, salads, curries, or raw.

3. Vitamin C-rich foods

benefits of vitamin c
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Vitamin C-rich foods or “superfoods,” such as oranges, strawberries, etc. help in building collagen in the body which helps to keep the skin and tissues strong.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

Try including fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, such as guava, parsley, pineapple, black currant, tomatoes, mango, lemon, Brussel sprouts, etc.

You can dish out tasty smoothies or try your hand at lip-smacking salads for a healthy start to your day and a speedy recovery for your sprain!

Handy tip: You can also consume electrolyte-rich foods, such as bananas and coconut water which contain magnesium and potassium to reduce pain and ensure a safe, speedy recovery.

[Read: Home Remedies for Heel Spurs]

4. Berries/Cocoa/Green Tea

Why Does It Work?

Antioxidant-rich foods, such as cocoa, berries, green tea are extremely essential for eliminating free radicals in the body which can cause unprecedented damage in the body.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can drink green tea 2-3 times a day and feel refreshed instantly. Plus, you can whip up smoothies, juices, etc. out of superfoods, such as berries, raw cacao, etc.

5. Pumpkin Seed

Pumpkin Seed
Image: ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Pumpkin seeds have become all the rage now and rightly so. This superfood is high in zinc and aids in the rebuilding of body tissues. That’s not all. It also supports the immune system and ensures you’re healthy from the inside out.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can consume a handful of pumpkin seeds in the evening and snack healthy instead of eating junk food.

Did You Know?

Around 80% of ankle sprains occur when your foot is pointing downwards and twists inwards(2).

Recipe for a DIY Muscle Rub

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup grated beeswax
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 teaspoon ginger or turmeric powder
  • 15 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • glass jar

Steps to make it:

  1. Pour all the oils (except the essential oils) into a jar.
  2. Fill the pan with water (2 inches in height) and put it on medium-low heat.
  3. Then, place the jar in the pan and allow the oils to melt.
  4. Keep stirring while you add cayenne and ginger/turmeric.
  5. Take it off and allow it to cool. Then, add in the essential oils.
  6. Mix well and pour it into a container so that it can set.
  7. Voila, you’re all done!

[Read: KT Tape for Ankle]

CURE 3: Alternative Therapies For Sprained Ankle

Like mentioned before, treatment for sprained ankle need not cost you dearly – in terms of the monetary investment, time, or effort. Simply put, you can easily treat a sprained ankle at home with things that are readily available in your kitchen cabinets and your storage room.

That said, it always helps to visit the doctor first before you opt for any self-treatment and self-care options. Get a complete low-down from your doctor and understand the extent of damage to your ankle so that you get begin healing on the correct path.

Moving on, let’s look at the top-7 remedies for treating ankle sprain and related symptoms, such as swelling, pain, and bruises:

1. Rest and ice bath for a sprained ankle

Why Does It Work?

Ask any injury expert and they’ll tell you that the first step towards healing is going for the “RICE” method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) on the affected area. This mantra holds true for ankle sprains as well.

You can start moving the ankle around once it has healed initially so that there’s no stiffness. Then comes applying the ice compress which is really helpful in reducing swelling and providing relief.

Important: Please rest the affected area for 72 hours post-injury. Plus, make sure that you don’t apply ice directly on the skin. It is highly recommended that you use an ice pack/cloth.

How often should you do it?

After 1-2 days, you can apply an ice compress for about 15-30 minutes to tackle the swelling and reduce it. You can repeat this process 4-5 times a day.

2. Epsom salt

Epsom Salt
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Epsom salts are extremely useful in soothing sore muscles and connective tissues.

How often should you do it?

Fill some warm water in a wide tub and add some Epsom salt to it. Then, soak your ankle in it. Remember that you should do this after a few days of the injury. Basically, it is important to apply cold compress initially as applying heat pressure may further increase inflammation. Repeat this process 1-2x a day to lower pain and alleviate any discomfort.

[Read: Epsom Salt for Sore Muscles]

3. Acupuncture

Why Does It Work?

Dr. Robert Roeshman, a certified acupuncturist claims that needles that are placed in strategic acupuncture points with a decreased electrical activity can generate an electric flow between these points.

This, in turn, helps the brain to release endorphins and trigger the immune system so that healing occurs in a faster manner.

He further adds, “If done when an injury is “fresh,” acupuncture can significantly reduce recovery time. An ankle sprain that would normally take seven to 14 days to heal could be better in one to three days.”

Typical acupuncture points include Ashi points, Sanyinjiao, Yanglingquan, Taichong, Taixi, and Kunlun.

How often should you do it?

It is best to seek expert consultation to understand the schedule, type, and frequency of acupuncture sessions required as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this form of treatment.

[Read: Acupuncture for Arthritis Pain]

4. Physiotherapy

Why Does It Work?

Stop worrying about how to fix a sprained ankle, and simply embrace physical therapy for the sprained ankle as a remedial measure. Typically, sessions with an expert physiotherapist can enhance your ankle’s mobility and bring back the original range of motion, strength, and stability in a safe and secure manner. Plus, since the ankle needs enough rest initially, all the inactivity can make it stiff and tough. This is where physiotherapy can work its charm and treat the soreness as gently and effectively as possible.

How often should you do it?

Please consult your doctor to get a recommendation for an expert physiotherapist (in case you don’t have one already).

5. KT Tape

Kt Tape for Plantar Fascitis
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Kinesiology Tape or KT Tape is a thin, lightweight and flexible tape that you can wear 24/7 without worrying about the blood circulation in the affected area. In fact, you can continue to wear the Kinesio tape during your exercise sessions for extra stability and as a preventive measure. In fact, research(3) indicates that this tape helps in reducing pain, altering muscle function, improving circulation, enhancing proprioception, and repositioning subluxated joints.

How to do it and how often should you do it?

The general process includes clearing the affected area by washing it with soap and water. If there’s a lotion or cream on the affected area, the tape won’t stick. Allow the area to be completely dry. Then visit your physiotherapist to understand how to apply it, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. For your convenience, there are “how-to” videos available online, however, nothing beats a face-to-face expert consultation.

Important: Make sure to do a skin patch test at least 24 hours prior as you may be allergic to the KT tape. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

[Read: KT Tape for Ankle]

6. Sprained ankle exercises

Why Does It Work?

“How to recover from a sprained ankle?” – This question is best answered by performing ankle rehabilitation exercises 72 hours after the injury. These exercises ensure 100% healing while making sure that reinjury does not occur.

How often should you do it?

Exercises for a sprained ankle depends on the intensity of the sprain as well as your doctor/physiotherapists’ recommendations. So please speak to an expert to chalk out your exercise regime, understand the frequency of the exercises, the type of exercises, etc.

Some common exercises that experts suggest include: range-of-motion exercises (ankle alphabet, knee motion, towel curls, tissue crunches, etc.), stretching exercises (towel/calf stretch, heel raise, one-leg balance, etc.), strengthening exercises (elastic band push, elastic band pull, ankle in, ankle out, etc.) for the ankle, and balance and control exercises (basic balance, pillow balance, balancing with your eyes closed, etc.).

7. Massage

Why Does It Work?

Massage therapy can be the answer you’ve been looking for on how to reduce swelling in a sprained ankle.

How often should you do it?

There are numerous factors to keep in mind when opting for a massage if you’re suffering from an ankle sprain. One, please consult your doctor and then visit a certified massage therapist. Two, make sure that the therapist understands the current condition of your ankle sprain (mild, severe, etc.) so that they don’t end up being way too aggressive while giving the massage treatment.

Three, ensure that under no circumstances should your ankle be pulled or bent. Ideally, you should wait at least three days before getting a massage. Note that cross-friction massages can turn out to be therapeutic and healing if done the right way.

See Also
Blood pressure

Important: If you experience any kind of pain, please stop the massage right away. Plus, don’t give yourself a massage and visit an expert instead.

[Read: Massage for Sciatica Pain]

Did You Know?

The sprained ankle recovery time for minor sprains is about two weeks, whereas it can take up to 12 weeks for more severe cases.

CURE 4: Herbs For Sprained Ankle

Trust us when we say that googling about “How to heal a sprained ankle?” might not help as much as trying these herbs when ingested or applied topically. Whether you’re looking to heal bruises or any sprain, these easily-available herbs can “plant” seeds of healing and ensure a speedy recovery. Please consult a doctor if ingesting the herbs to understand any side-effects these medicinal herbs may have:

1. Turmeric root

Turmeric
Image:ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Turmeric or curcumin is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic herbs available to us.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can make a thick and smooth paste using two tablespoons of organic turmeric powder, one tablespoon of lime or lemon juice, and warm water as required. Apply this mixture topically and cover with a gauze bandage.

Best to leave it on for 10-12 hours/overnight. Conversely, you can add a  teaspoon of dried turmeric powder to a cup of warm milk and savor this “golden latte.”

2. Calendula

Why Does It Work?

Calendula helps in treating inflammation and supports the body in its self-healing process.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can crush up a handful of calendula leaves and apply on the affected area for around 3 hours to reduce swelling, get rid of bruises, and accelerate healing.

3. Aloe Vera

aloe vera
Image: ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Aloe vera offers a cooling effect, helps to relieve pain, and promotes healing.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

Aloe vera is available in a variety of forms, such as gel, oil, or raw leaves. You can simply apply a few crushed aloe leaves to the bruise or you can squeeze aloe vera gel onto a piece of gauze, and allow it to soak. Then, apply it onto your bruise, ideally for a period of 30–60 minutes.

CURE 5: Supplements For Sprained Ankle

Supplements for sprained ankle treatment are what salt is for food. It enhances the quality of treatment and ensures that a “complete” healing process is underway. Here are the top-3 supplements you can take to support your body in treating the pain as naturally and holistically as possible:

Important: Please consult your doctor to understand the right dosage for you, basis the intensity of your ankle sprain and the other symptoms you may be facing. Self-prescribing these supplements is not recommended.

[Read: Natural Remedies Ankle]

1. Collagen

Why Does It Work?

As suggested above, collagen ensures that all your connective tissues stay super-strong and super-healthy. Plus, it also helps in replacing dead cells in our skin while ensuring that they maintain their elasticity. Simply put, collagen can be compared to a “glue” that binds our body together.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

You can take collagen supplements, like collagen protein powder or tablets. However, please consult your doctor to understand the recommended dosage as there’s no standard dosage for the same. Also, please focus on the quality of the collagen supplement when buying it.

2. Omega-3 Fats

omega 3 rich food
Source: ShutterStock

Why Does It Work?

Omega-3 fats contain compounds, such as EPA and DHA which offer anti-inflammatory health benefits and thereby, help in healing wounds and decreasing inflammation. This critical nutrient is generally found in fish oil supplements or can be attained by directly consuming fish.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

Ideal natural sources of omega-3 oils include cold-water salmon, herring, white fish, sardines and anchovies. If you cannot stand the smell or the taste of fish, you can always try the supplement form. Note that the recommended dose for fish oil dosage is between 500- 1,000 milligrams daily.

[Read: Supplements for Knee Pain]

3. Bromelain

Why Does It Work?

Research(4) indicates that Bromelain, an active compound found in pineapples, comes with anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties which accelerates the healing process by increasing blood circulation and relieving inflammation, pain as well as swelling.

How to Use and How Much to Use?

The recommended dose for the bromelain supplement is 500 mg. You can take it 3x daily or as directed by your doctor.

Dos & Don’ts for Sprained Ankle: Lifestyle Changes

Here’s a complete low-down of what to do for a sprained ankle and what not to do:

Do’s

Don’ts

Do visit your doctor or foot and ankle specialist immediately post-injury.Don’t start self-prescribing medicines/treatments. Also, don’t assume the “intensity” of damage without any expert supervision.
Engage in physiotherapy and work towards rehabilitating the ankle, while providing it adequate rest.Don’t ignore your ankle or else the condition may worsen further and cause chronic pain, swelling, etc.
Ensure that your ankles have a proper posture and form at all times while exercising to avoid further sprain. A walking boot for a sprained ankle can help. You can also opt for custom shoes for a sprained ankle, but seek expert help during the process.Don’t wear a boot for a sprained ankle 24/7 as the affected area needs some air and adequate blood circulation to breathe and heal.
Once your ankle has healed, you can go for swimming, cycling, and try band exercise to maximize the healing process. Make sure to consult your doctor first.Don’t overdo the working out with a sprained ankle bit as you may end up delaying the healing process. Doing extreme cardio with a sprained ankle, such as HIIT exercises is a complete no-go.
Do consume an anti-inflammatory diet.Don’t consume too much alcohol or caffeine as it aids in bone loss and causes inflammation. Plus, avoid too much salt and refined sugar as they can prevent natural healing, weaken the immune system, and lead to the loss of critical nutrients from the body.

Did You Know?

While walking or running, you can avoid injuries if you land in the middle of your feet (keeping it as flat as possible) instead of the back of your heels.

Incessant pain increased inflammation, and skin discoloration due to internal bleeding: these are the three classic signs of ankle sprains. Now, as common as an ankle sprain sounds, it takes thrice the effort to treat it.

You need consistent dedication, a healthy concoction of natural and alternative treatments, and expert care along with self-love to bring your ankle’s functioning back to its original form.

That said, ankle sprains take time to heal so don’t rush it. Plus, remember that the healing depends on the severity of the injury and the kind of treatment your doctor recommends. If you stay on track and embrace these effective and easy-to-implement sprained ankle care methods, you’ll live life stress- and sprain-free!

On the off chance that none of the above mentioned natural treatments is working in your favor, please consult a doctor for understanding the next steps you should take.


FAQs

1. How Long Does It Take for a Sprained Ankle to Heal?

The first question on everyone’s mind is probably this: How long does a sprained ankle stay swollen? A grade one ankle sprain takes between 5-14 days to heal, whereas grade two sprains can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks to heal. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor to understand the severity of your ankle sprain.

2. Can Walking on a Sprained Ankle Make It Worse?

If the sprain is minimal (grade one), walking does not make it worse. That said, you need to ensure that the affected area gets enough rest or else, overusing it can make it worse. It is advised that you use crutches while walking for the first few days and also use an ankle brace/boot as suggested by your doctor to provide additional support.

3. Should You Wrap a Sprained Ankle Overnight?

You can use a gauze bandage or a simple elastic bandage and wrap it loosely on the affected area and keep it on overnight. However, you should opt to do so only if you’re having trouble sleeping at night. In any case, please consult an expert for additional safety.

4. How to Take Care of a Sprained Ankle?

First off, you need to consult a doctor to understand the course of treatment – natural or otherwise. That said, there are a number of ways to treat a sprained ankle: from using the RICE method and applying heat on the sprained ankle, to using elastic bandages and wrapping your ankle loosely and wearing a brace to support your ankle. Additionally, you can take OTC medicines, such as ibuprofen to manage the pain. Plus, precautionary measures, such as getting plenty of rest and not putting any pressure on your ankle can speed up the healing process.

5. How to Tape a Sprained Ankle?

When taping a sprained ankle, make sure that you don’t tape it too tightly or the blood circulation might get cut off. All in all, the tape should be firm and secure. Ideally, try using 1-1/4 inch athletic tapes for the best results. In terms of the taping strategy, start by taping the arch of your foot diagonally, and move from the inside (under the foot) to the outside (top of the foot). Repeat this process at least 2-3 times, overlapping each layer of tape as this provides added protection. It should resemble the “figure-8” motion. It is important to get an expert to tape it for you for the first time in order to avoid any further injuries.

6. How Long to Ice a Sprained Ankle?

In order to treat a sprained ankle swelling, you can use ice for up to 20 minutes at a time. If your skin starts to feel numb, stop icing it immediately. Plus, remember that you can use ice treatments every 4 hours for the first 3 days post your sprain.

7. What’s Good for a Sprained Ankle?

Initially, the REST method works best to treat a sprained ankle. You also need to ensure that you’re sufficiently hydrated and are following a balanced diet so that your body heals quickly and naturally. For additional information on the course of treatment, please consult your doctor.

8. How to Bandage a Sprained Ankle?

If you’re wondering about how to wrap a sprained ankle, we’ve got you covered. There are three factors to keep in mind when wrapping a sprained ankle without causing further damage. One, you can ask someone else to tape it by lifting your leg off the ground and placing it on a stool/chair. You can place your foot at a 90-degree angle so that the tape allows you to move your foot freely while simultaneously protecting it. Three, you can place 2-4inch sized adhesive pads in the front and back of your foot to prevent bruises/blisters.

9. What Exercises Can I Do with a Sprained Ankle?

In order to prevent a sprained ankle bruising, you can try the following exercises: ankle alphabet, knee motion, towel, and tissue crunches, standing calf stretch, heel-raise among others. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercises and understand the right frequency for your exercise regime.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Sign up for our Newsletter !
Get access to quality and natural health tips right from the experts. 
Subscribe !
close-link

Send this to a friend