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Ankle Sprains and the RICE method

If you have every sprained your ankle, you would have almost certainly heard of the RICE protocol; Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate. This practice has been in place since “The Sports Medicine Book” was published in 1978, and has been used ever since.

More recently, this standard has been questioned, and whether some of its components are required or can be modified.

For those more minor sprains here are a few amendments to the traditional RICE method. If you think that your injury is severe or you can’t take more than 4 steps after inuring your ankle, seek help from a healthcare professional, such as your North York Chiropractor.

Think Relative Rest, Not Complete Rest

Complete rest of an ankle that has suffered a relatively minor injury can delay recovery compared to beginning some light movement exercise immediately following an ankle injury. Light exercise within the first 48-72 hours after injury improves blood flow and maintains mobility in the joint. Furthermore, the most recent research has shown that the addition of accelerated exercise therapy during the first week after an ankle sprain can improve ankle function compared to the RICE method alone. If you are looking for event quicker recovery, visit your North York Chiropractic Clinic, as the addition of ankle mobilizations reduces the time of return to some functional outcomes, including sports, running and normal amount of walking.

What still holds true for the RICE method?

The experts still advocate compression and elevation from the original recommendations of 1978. Some people may use an elastic or compression bandage, however a brace has been shown to be more effective. Ice is still helpful for the initial swelling. Continuous ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours and ice for two 10-minute sets every 2 hours has a similar effect on ankle sprains.

What are good exercises to do after I sprain my ankle?

Ankle sprains can be quite painful, and include bruising and swelling. If the sprain is not major or fractured, by quickly beginning exercise your chances of returning to activity quicker, increase mobility, strength and proprioception (your body’s knowledge of where it is in space) will be much greater. Here is a guide to the types of exercise to achieve a full recovery and reduce the chance of recurrence.

Days 1-3: Range of motion exercises should be performed as soon as can be tolerated, along with progressive weight-bearing and exercise, and non-weight-bearing Achilles stretches.

Day 3 – 2-3 Weeks: Begin graduated proprioception (balance) exercises as tolerated with only minor pain.

Weeks 2-6: Continue functional rehabilitation until you are able to do a usual amount of walking without a limp. Add additional strengthening and neuromuscular training, including step-ups and step downs.

One of the most common predictors of an ankle sprain is previous ankle sprains. In order to prevent injury recurrence balance exercises are a key component of your recovery. Several studies found balance exercises were key in reducing the rate of re-injury.

For more information, visit your North York Chiropractor or call us at 647-504-4213.

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