Foot sprains are one of the most common sports injuries, and they vary wildly in how debilitating they can be. A mild foot sprain simply requires some walking it off and maybe a couple days of limited use. Severe foot sprains could require surgery and months of inactivity followed by a lengthy rehab process.
What is a foot sprain?
The human foot has 26 bones in it. All these bones are held together by ligaments, short bands of tough, flexible, and fibrous tissue connecting bones and holding together joints. Imagine ligaments like rubber bands holding everything in place. Their elasticity allows some wiggle room, but there’s a limit to how much everything can shift.
When a joint in your foot is subjected to a sudden trauma that knocks the bones out of position (ie: landing on somebody’s foot when playing basketball), the ligament tries to return everything to position. But if the trauma is severe enough, it stretches the ligament past the point of return/ In the worst cases, the ligament will actually completely tear.
Here’s what to look for if you think you may have sprained your foot.
Symptoms of a foot sprain:
- Swelling or bruising around the heel and arch of the foot.
- Stiffness and lack of ROM.
- Trouble putting weight on it.
- Pain when walking or during activity.
So what my foot is sprained…What do I do?
Depending on the severity, you should immediately consult your doctor or practitioner. They can provide you with an X-Ray that will better determine whether you’re dealing with a strain, sprain, or tear.
If you’re still walking on it, albeit maybe with a bit of a limp, then you’re probably fine and don’t need to seek immediate medical attention. Stick your foot in a bucket of ice water for 10-15 minutes, take it out and dry, then repeat one or two more times. Do this for the first 6-12 hours and after that heat or nothing should be used.
Give it time:
There’s no insta-fix solution for a sprained foot. You need to give your foot time to heal. Avoid strenuous physical activities that will pound on your feet, especially if it’s an activity that may cause your ligament to further stretch or tear. Your foot is most susceptible to further sprains when recovering from a previous one.