Ankle Supports for Sprains – Your Questions Answered

Ankle sprains are a common injury among athletes and active individuals, often resulting from sudden twists or impacts during sports activities. Whether you’re playing football, running, or in the gym, protecting your ankles is important to avoid these painful injuries.

Understanding the types of ankle sprains, along with how to manage them effectively, can significantly improve your recovery time and overall ankle health. This guide covers the most common questions regarding ankle sprains.

What Are the Types of Ankle Sprains from Sport?

Ankle sprains are typically categorised into three grades. This is based on severity – the higher the grade, the more severe the strain. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Grade 1: This is a mild ankle sprain that involves slight stretching and microscopic tearing of the ligament fibres. Symptoms include mild tenderness and swelling, although ankle stability remains largely intact.
  • Grade 2: This moderate sprain involves partial tearing of the ligament. The result: moderate pain, swelling, and bruising. The joint may have a degree of instability, and there is often difficulty bearing weight.
  • Grade 3: This is a severe sprain where the ligament is completely torn. Symptoms include significant swelling, severe pain, bruising, and a feeling of instability in the ankle. Walking becomes very difficult, while the ankle is extremely tender to touch.

Recognising the type of sprain is necessary for appropriate treatment and recovery. While grade 1 sprains often heal quickly with proper care, more intensive treatment and longer recovery periods are required for grade 2 and 3 sprains.

How Do You Recover from a Grade 1 Ankle Sprain?

Although the least severe of its type, recovering from a grade 1 ankle sprain involves several steps to reduce pain and promote healing. Given its mild nature, a grade 1 sprain typically heals within a few weeks when proper care is taken.

Initially, follow the R.I.C.E. protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting the ankle and avoiding strenuous activities helps prevent further injury. The application of ice packs reduces swelling and numbs the pain, while compression ankle supports – such as those offered by Bearhug – are used to manage swelling and deliver stability. Elevating the ankle above heart level also assists with reducing swelling.

It’s generally safe to walk on a grade 1 sprain. However, take care when doing so, and always avoid putting too much pressure on the injured ankle. Gradually reintroducing movement through gentle exercises can improve flexibility and strength. It’s also wise to use ankle supports during this phase for additional stability and confidence, aiding a faster recovery. 

How Do You Recover from a Grade 2 Ankle Sprain?

As you would expect, recovering from a grade 2 ankle sprain involves more intensive care compared to a grade 1 sprain. Recovery time typically sits around the range of four to six weeks. Surgery is rarely necessary for grade 2 sprains, but in severe cases, it might be considered.

Again, you want to initially follow the R.I.C.E. protocol. Resting the ankle, as ever, is the key to preventing further damage, while the use of ice reduces pain and swelling. Stability is gained through compression ankle supports, while elevation keeps the swelling down.

Walking on a grade 2 sprain should be minimised initially to avoid injury aggravation. As the ankle begins to heal, physical therapy exercises are advised to restore strength and flexibility. For that extra stability and confidence – along with speeding up the healing process – the use of ankle supports during recovery is also recommended.

How Do You Recover from a Grade 3 Ankle Sprain?

Recovering from a grade 3 ankle sprain, where the ligament is completely torn, is a more complex, lengthy process. Recovery time can range widely from several weeks to several months. Its severity is highlighted by the fact it can sometimes be worse than a simple fracture due to the instability it causes.

Initially, immobilisation of the ankle is often necessary for the start of recovery, and crutches may be used to avoid putting weight on the injured ankle. Surgery might be required in certain cases to fully repair the torn ligament.

The rehabilitation process, which can last a significant amount of time, includes physical therapy to restore range of motion, strength, and stability. Walking on a grade 3 sprain is not advised until significant healing has occurred. Without that, it can result in further complications.

High-quality Bearhug ankle supports can offer the necessary stability and protection during the recovery phase. Recovery methods include physiotherapy, progressive weight-bearing exercises, and wearing ankle braces to support the healing process.

Regardless of the severity of the sprain, it’s always vital you follow a healthcare professional’s guidance for a safe, effective recovery.