Hello there, fellow runner!
So, you’ve been hit with an ankle sprain and you’re itching to get back to running. We all know how frustrating it can be to sit on the sidelines while others are out there crushing their goals. But don’t worry, with the right approach and a bit of patience, you’ll be back on track in no time.
First things first, it’s important to give your body time to heal properly. Rushing back into running too soon can lead to re-injury and set you back even further. So, start with a proper rehab protocol and stick to it.
Here’s an extensive return to running rehab protocol that spans from the initial injury to the final stage of recovery:
Phase 1: Rest and Recovery (Days 1-3)
The first three days after an ankle sprain are crucial for rest and recovery. During this time, it’s important to reduce weight bearing, wear a compression sock, and elevate the foot to reduce swelling and pain. You may also need to take anti-inflammatory medication, as prescribed by your doctor.
Phase 2: Mobility and Strengthening (Days 4-10)
Once the swelling has gone down, you can start working on mobility and strengthening exercises for your ankle. Begin with gentle movements like ankle circles and alphabet exercises, and gradually progress to more challenging exercises like calf raises and single-leg balance exercises.
Phase 3: Cardiovascular Endurance (Days 11-21)
As you start to feel more confident with your ankle’s mobility and strength, you can begin adding in some low-impact cardiovascular exercises like cycling or swimming. These exercises will help maintain your cardiovascular endurance without putting too much stress on your ankle.
Phase 4: Return to Running (Days 22+)
If you’ve made it through the first three phases without any setbacks, then it’s time to start running again! But don’t jump right into your usual marathon training routine just yet. Instead, start with short, easy runs and gradually increase your mileage and intensity over time. Be sure to listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin your return to running:
- Wear proper footwear with good ankle support
- Warm up properly before each run
- Avoid uneven or unstable surfaces
- Don’t push yourself too hard too soon
Bear in mind, this return to play protocol is based on a grade 1 or 2 ankle sprain. A full thickness tear of the ankle ligaments will require a longer rehabilitation process. Remember, it’s important to be patient and take your time with your recovery. You may not be back to your pre-injury level of fitness right away, but with a positive attitude and a smart approach, you’ll be back to running marathons before you know it.
Written by Nick Dimakis (Chiropractor)