Ankle sprains result in pain and swelling due to stretching or tearing of some of the ligaments surrounding the ankle. The outside of the ankle is the most common area of injury. As these tears heal, they form scar tissue, which sticks to normal tissue and causes inflammation and continued pain. Without appropriate treatment, ankle pain can persist for several months, or even years.
Most commonly people sprain ankles by stepping in a hole or tripping over tree roots or rocks. Running on uneven ground can also be a contributing factor.
As soon as you sprain your ankle stop running or walking on it. Although you may not feel pain right away, continued weight-bearing can damage your ankle further. This next step is very critical; follow the R.I.C.E. protocol. This means rest, ice, compression and elevation. If pain and / or swelling persist, see your family doctor or podiatrist. A severely sprained ankle often needs to be treated by a physical therapist who will use ultrasound and massage to reduce scar tissue formation and help restore normal strength and range of motion.
If you are prone to ankle sprains, avoid rocky or uneven terrains. Wear a firmer or more supportive training shoe or sneaker for better stability, and do ankle-strengthening exercises often.
Do not run or participate in vigorous weight-bearing activities with a sprained ankle. This will only damage the ankle further.