Sprained ankles, broken ankles, torn ligaments… In sports and everyday life, ankles take a beating. Our ankles are the final weight-bearing joint, holding up every part of us from the tops of our heads to the bottoms of our shins. The ankles are responsible for supporting us as we run, jump, climb, and twist. As we lunge and swim and kick. And any number of these activities can lead to a mild-to-serious ankle injury.
The problem with recovering from an ankle injury isn’t going through the correct steps. Most people know how to Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate an injury. But we rely on our ankles. It’s just so hard to remember not to step down on one of your two faithful feet when it’s time to get up, climb or descend steps, or simply walk forward.
So today, we’re here to share a few clever around-the-house hacks on how to get around and recover efficiently when one of your trusty ankles is out of commission.
1) Stumble-Proof Your Home and Office
With an injured ankle, moving around becomes more perilous whether you’re at home or at work. Even if you are being very careful with crutches and braces, stumbling poses a serious risk of reinjury or at risk of creating a new separate injury from catching yourself as you fall. For this reason, you want to make sure your home, office, and other regular haunts are as stumble-proof as possible.
Cleaning up at Home
Clean up your home floors and walkways. Start by picking up any clutter on the floor, from dog toys to lost socks. Anything that could trip up you or your crutches. If there are rippling hazardous rugs, take them up for now.
Consider the width of your walkways. If they are too narrow for crutch-travel, consider widening the walkways with slight adjust in furniture placement. Get a friend or family member to help you move furniture and pick up clutter.
Clearing the Path at Work
For everyone who is still heading to work or school while your ankle recovers, put some thought into stumble-proof pathways there as well. If you work in an office environment where you can make changes, be sure to sweep for floor obstacles and ask if it’s alright to widen any particularly narrow walkways. If you have your own office, consider making a few adjustments to make yourself both safer and more comfortable.
2) Ice Pack Tricks
The key to quelling the swelling, easing the pain, and accelerating your recover is proper application of ice. Chilling your injured ankle has a number of medical benefits, especially in the first two weeks of the recovery process where swelling is still a serious concern. However, holding an ice pack to your ankle all day is something that no one has time for. So we’ve got a few fun hacks to help you ice correctly without the hassle.
Attach Your Ice Pack
The first ice hack is simple: No Hands Icing. Some ankle braces include one to four pouches nested into the brace where you can slip ice packs in without having to hold them to your ankle. With this simple trick, you can enjoy a combination of support, protection, and icy cooling hands-free. If you don’t have a pouched ankle brace, this can also be rigged up with towels and bandages. Especially if you plan on holding still for a while.
Ice-Weight Leg Lifts
While you’ve got ice packs strapped to your ankle, now is the perfect time for a little recovery exercise. Even before it’s safe to start your healing exercises with the ankle itself, you can work out your thigh and keep your blood pumping by casually lifting and dropping the ice-packed ankle as you work or watch TV. Strap something similarly weighted (non-cold ice packs?) to the other ankle for an even leg-lift workout.
Use Phone Timers to Ice Properly
The correct timing for ankle icing is to apply ice for 30 minutes ever two hours. This shakes out to 30 minutes with ice on and 90 minutes with ice off. Over the course of a day, keeping up can be pretty difficult to maintain.
3) Become the Master of Your Crutches
The next ankle injury challenge is mastering your crutches. Some people dealt with enough injuries as children to already have some mad crutch-navigation skills while others find themselves fumbling with the simple effort of moving forward. If you’re not yet a master of your crutches, now is the ideal time to learn and train. With practice, you can move even faster on crutches than you can by walking on two feet.
The Right Height and Padding
The first thing you need are crutches that fit. If your crutches hurt your underarms, sides, back or shoulders, then you’ve got the wrong settings. The top of your crutches should be 1-1.5 inches below your armpits when you stand fully upright. The hand rests should be level with the top of your hips. This will give you the most ergonomic and comfortable way to support your weight and glide forward.
Crutch Races with Friends
Once your crutches fit correctly, it’s time to practice. A great way to practice is to race your friends. Pass around the crutches or play with multiple sets if they are available. Set up a straight-and-clear race course. You can practice moving, moving at speed, and moving around corners on your new crutches while laughing and having fun.
One Crutch or Two
Depending on your personal comfort level, you may decide that you’re better off with only one crutch. This is a personal choice and you should choose whatever helps you move the most comfortably, safely, and quickly.
Crutch Navigation Challenges
If you feel up to it, challenge yourself with crutch navigation challenges. There will be times when you need to dodge furniture, navigate narrow pathways, or step over obstacles while traveling with crutches. So you might as well practice in a safe environment so you’re ready for these real-world obstacle course challenges.
4) DIY Ways to Elevate the Ankle
Keeping your ankle elevated is the next most commonly neglected part of ankle recover. We know, it’s not always easy to find a place to prop your leg up on something at home, at work, or at school. But the more you can prop your ankle up, the better. This slows blood flow, promotes healing, and makes sure you keep the pressure off your healing ankle. We have more than a few clever and common DIY elevation solutions.
Pile of Pillows
When you’re chilling on the couch or watching movies on your bed, a pile of pillows can be an excellently comfy way to prop your foot up. It’s also easy to throw together. Keep extra pillows or other fluffy soft things around just to prop your leg up on when you’ve got room to lounge.
Coffee Table or Kitchen Chairs
The other common home solution is to prop your leg up on the coffee table in front of your couch. Or, if a coffee table isn’t available, just drag a kitchen chair over to wherever you’re sitting and throw a pillow on top of it. Kitchen chairs are very helpful for ankle elevation.
Canopy Bed Sling
Canopy beds are not so common, but if you have one this is a pretty great opportunity. You can use a towel, a sheet, or a long scarf to rig up a sling from the rods of your canopy bed. Be sure to weight-test the canopy rods to ensure that they can support your leg and you can dynamically adjust how much to elevate your ankle while in bed.
Recliner or Deck Chair
If you have a big soft recliner or reclining deck chairs, this can be another great option for elevating your ankle at home. Enjoy the mechanical ease of propping your ankle up while lounging.
Pile of Old Textbooks
And if you don’t have kitchen chairs or a coffee table or an excessive number of pillows, then there’s an increased chance that you’re a college student and a pile of textbooks may be more accessible. A pile of thick textbooks can double as any of these things to prop up your ankle with whatever is handy.
5) Pick Your Go-Bag
After settling in with your secured ice packs and elevated ankle, you’re not going to want to get up for a while. Take it from experienced recovery experts, having a go-bag is one of the smartest things you can do to achieve your resting goals. Pack a bag that can hold your un-charged ice packs, a water bottle, your medication, a novel or puzzle book, and anything else it occurs to you to keep close by while you park and heal.
A canvas bag is a practical choice that can hold just about anything you need and blends well in laid-back environments like school or casual workplaces.
At home or possibly at work, the smartest choice can be an easily carried shower caddy. Shower caddies are designed to provide an organized basket that stays upright with easy-to-grab handles.
If you have to move around a lot, a backpack can be the most practical answer for keeping everything you need close-by and keep your arms free for pro-crutching.
If you need to reach into your bag while standing with crutches, a messenger bag is a good alternative to the backpack. You don’t have to take it off to rummage. Just be sure to sling it over the hip of your uninjured leg.
6) Keep Your Phone Close
Last but not least, keep your phone handy. Recovering from an injury is when you are at the highest risk of becoming reinjured or acquiring new injuries. Just in case, be sure your phone is charged up and on hand.
While phone holsters may not be your usual style, now might be the right time to get a belt clip or backpack holster for your phone so that you are never too far away from emergency communication.
Pocket Chain or Wrist Tether
If your phone usually lives in your pocket, consider adding a pocket chain or tether to make sure that the phone can’t slip out of your pocket while sitting to be accidentally left behind. Or dropped.
Achieving the Best Possible Ankle Recovery Experience
An ankle injury can slow you down, but it doesn’t have to. With a protective ankle brace, your trusty go-bag, some mad crutching skills, and a plan you can speed through your ankle recovery while barely slowing your roll. For more injury recovery insights or to find the braces and ice packs, you need to heal your ankle right now, contact us today!