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How To Deal With An Ankle Strain Or Mild Sprain


Playing quite a lot of football as I do I’m forever picking up knocks, bruises and strains. I don’t mind really as that’s part of the fun, although I’m sure some people think I suffer from spousal abuse with all the bruises I get! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, my ankles seem to take more of a battering than anything else – I guess when you mis-time a tackle and get the man instead of the ball it’s their ankle that you’re most likely to tread on. Sometimes I’d have to strap up my ankle for the next few times games and sometimes I’d have to miss games altogether until it got better. But then a friend of mine gave me some great advice about dealing with ankle injuries – although he warned me that it’s a bit painful. Since it’s been such a successful treatment for me I thought I’d mention it here in case you’ve hurt your ankle stepping off a pavement / playing football / mud wrestling / Scots country dancing / doing some other activity.

Ice Bucket PainSo, here’s how to get a speedy recovery from an ankle strain or mild sprain. I like to call it the “Ice Bucket Treatment”:

  1. Fill up a bucket or basin with cold water and as much ice as you can get your hands on.
  2. Get yourself a towel (handy for all occasions).
  3. Plunge your foot into the bucket until it goes numb (this should take a few minutes and you’ll know when it is because the agonising pain will have stopped – see right).
  4. Take your foot out, dry it and wait for it to warm up again.
  5. Repeat from step 3 several times until the ice has pretty much melted.

If you do this for a few nights after your injury you’ll be surprised how much more quickly it recovers than if you just left it alone.

One thing to warn you of is that step 3 really is surprisingly painful. My good lady made the mistake of telling me she’d hurt her ankle and having laughed at my suffering many times doing the ice bucket treatment I suggested she give it a try. The first thing she did after putting her foot in the bucket was to take it out again followed by uttering an expletive about how cold it was. I told her to put it back in and keep it there until it went numb – which she duly did. However the poor thing had tears streaming down her face from the pain as she did it so in the end we agreed that maybe the ice bucket treatment wasn’t for her. She doesn’t find it as amusing when I do it now so it wasn’t a total loss!

Ice baths are commonly used by professional athletes after training sessions and games / races to good effect but I don’t fancy filling up a wheelie bin with water and ice after every game thank you very much – however don’t let that stop you if you have your own ice machine!

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

14 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Did I read your post correctly, a mis-timed tackle – John, I’ve never seen you make a tackle, yet alone a mis-timed one πŸ™‚

    You don’t need an ice bath – just use a bag of frozen peas, there’s a bag in my freezer thats been healing bumps and bruises for about 5 years.


  2. Ha ha, that’s because you play me out on the wing away from all the action!

    Let’s just hope you don’t run out of veg and have to thaw those peas out and eat them! πŸ˜‰


  3. I like the ice bucket idea i have a strained ankle at the moment and my team physio said to do contrast bath but fillin up a bath is just so long i gt do it with the bucket.
    In ur step 3 wot i got told to do is put a warm towel or a heat pack if available.
    also always exercise the ankle to get it back to normal strength.


  4. Instead of a towel, your could foot in a plastic bag.
    You can also rub analgesic gel containing menthol on the strain prior to putting the foot in the bag, it helps the penetration of the cold.


    • Plastic bags aren’t very good at drying things though – and by drying it you speed up the warming up process so the next round of pain can begin!

      Haven’t tried the gel idea though so couldn’t say. Although the icy water penetrates pretty well!


  5. wow! i will try this on my son right now! he srained his foot. thanks for posting. internet search is always helpful…


  6. My daughter had a torn miniscus in the top of her foot. Basically a fracture. We did ice baths religiously for 10 minutes once per hour the first day and then 15 minutes every 1 1/2 hours there after during waking hours. It was a miracle! She recovered in record time to play volleyball. I have Ben told that the elements of the ice water is way more effective than just plain ice. And we were told the water should not be all ice but rather more water than ice. So for those who wish not to cry from discomfort you may find some relief even with less amounts of ice in the water, good luck!


  7. I really liked your advice about putting the foot in the bucket filled with ice to ease the swelling and pain caused by the sprain. Though I am sure that my brother has already tried that out or that he does not want to put his foot in a cold bucket considering the current weather. It might be for the best if we just take him to the professional and hear what they will say about pain management techniques. Thanks!


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