How to Soothe a Sore Ankle

Three Parts:Taking Immediate ActionTreating Sore Ankles at HomePreventing Sore Ankles in the Future

Ankle soreness results from overuse and exhaustion of your feet: this usually means wearing a new pair of shoes or walking around more than usual. Ankle soreness is distinct from sharp pain, bruising, numbness, tingling, or burning sensations. These instructions alleviate ankle soreness; if you are experiencing more than soreness, including the inability to walk on your feet without assistance, you might have a sprain or other medical injury that requires expert attention.[1]

Part 1
Taking Immediate Action

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    Rest for at least 30 minutes.Lie or sit down and take your weight off of your legs and feet. Lay them on a soft object and avoid moving them for as long as needed. Depending on your soreness, you might want to rest for longer than 30 minutes, even up to a whole day. Consider stopping the activity that caused your soreness, or putting rest increments in between sessions of the activity.
    • If your foot is incredibly sore, immobilize and avoid touching it for the first few hours.
    • Elevate your ankles above your heart. This makes it a little more difficult for blood to flow to your sore area, reducing the risk of swelling.
    • Rest in a location where others will not disturb you, like a chair in your living room or your bed.
    • If your ankle continues to hurt, apply the RICE method as outlined in Part 2.
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    Examine your sore ankles. Does anything look or feel different? Take note of swelling, discoloration, asymmetries between both feet, abnormal movement, or pain. Slight swelling normally accompanies ankle soreness but should not be debilitating. If you notice anything more than soreness and slight swelling--examples are listed below--record it and contact a doctor. Any of these sign may warrant an ankle x ray:
    • Rapid and sudden swelling that was not expected
    • Discoloration
    • Literal skin sores, bruises, open wounds, or infections
    • Asymmetries between both feet or legs
    • Abnormal joint movement
    • A different quality of pain than soreness (sharp, burning, cold, tingling)
    • A large temperature difference in your foot or ankle and rest of body
    • Lack of sensation in your foot or ankle
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    Determine if you need further medical help. Most often, sore ankles are the result of overuse: walking or running too much. However, ankle soreness, swelling, and other pain can be the result of more serious medical conditions. If any of the below apply to your sore ankles, contact a doctor: [2]
    • You are more than 20 weeks pregnant, and your ankles swelled rapidly and excessively. Sudden swelling of the ankles might indicate preeclampsia, or high blood pressure. Preeclampsia requires immediate medical attention.
    • There is soreness in only one of your ankles, though you used both equally. This can be a sign that something is wrong with your one ankle beyond overuse.
    • The soreness persists or worsens over time.
    • Ankle soreness and foot pain are listed as a side effect of a medication you are taking.
    • Ankle soreness and foot pain are listed as symptoms of a more serious medical condition you experience. This includes diabetes.
    • You may need to use crutches until you're able to walk with normal gait.

Part 2
Treating Sore Ankles at Home

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    Use the RICE treatment method. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This is the standard method for treating a sore joint.
    • Make sure to rest the joint and use crutches if you are not able to bear weight.
    • Apply ice to the joint to limit swelling. Applying ice is recommended for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours for the first 48 hours or until swelling is improved. You can use a sealed bag of ice, chemical ice pack, frozen peas, frozen meat, or any other cold object. If you leave ice on 1 location for more than 30 minutes, you risk longterm damage to your body part. Putting a towel between your skin and the ice can make it more comfortable, but will decrease the benefits of icing. The smaller the window of time is between onset of soreness and application of ice, the sooner the soreness will be alleviated.
    • Use a compressive device such as an elastic bandage to limit swelling and inflammation.
    • Elevate the ankle above the heart to increase blood and lymphatic drainage back to the heart. [3]
    • Also the use of NSAIDS is warranted to reduce inflammation.
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    Consider applying heat. Wrap your sore ankle with a warm object for 10-15 minutes once a day to increase blood circulation and decrease joint stiffness. Warmth can increase muscle flexibility and relaxation.[4]
    • You can use a warm water bottle, towel, or electric blanket.
    • If you use a hot object, you risk burning or irritating your skin in addition to irritating damaged muscles around your ankle.
    • Placing a towel between your skin and the warm object can make it more comfortable and better regulate the heat of the object.
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    Massage your sore ankle gently to relax the muscles around it. Also try massaging the rest of your foot and calf to relax the other parts of your body that might be contributing to your sore ankle.
    • Ask someone else to massage your feet, but give yourself a massage if no one else can do so.
    • Place a tennis ball underneath your sore foot and roll it around. Apply your weight gently so that you do not slip and fall, but enough to mimic a massage.[5]
    • Know the physiology of the foot well before performing deep and intense massages.
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    Stretch your ankle up and down. While sitting, use the muscles in your shin and top of foot to make a right angle and bring your toes upward. Count to 10. Then lower your foot to make a straight line with your shin and top of foot. Count to 10. Repeat 10 times in 1 day.[6]
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    Stretch your ankle in. While sitting, curl your foot inwards so that your outer ankle is close to the ground and you can see the side of your big toe. This stretches out your ankle. Count to 10. Repeat 10 times in 1 day.[7]
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    Stretch your ankle out. While sitting, curl your foot outwards so that your big toe and heel are touching the ground, but you are using your ankle and outer foot to lift your pinky toe off the ground. This exercises your ankle muscles. Count to 10. Repeat 10 times in 1 day.[8]
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    Stretch with stairs. Stand on the edge of a stair, drop your ankles down a few inches to stretch the back of your foot and calf. Hold this position for a count of 10. Slowly and steadily rise back up to your starting position. Repeat 10 times in 1 day.[9]

Part 3
Preventing Sore Ankles in the Future

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    Create a plan for reducing or treating the cause of your sore ankles now.[10][11]
    • If you have been walking or exercising too much, you can do lighter exercise or more slowly increase your exercise load to avoid soreness. Use the exercises listed in this article even when your ankles are no longer sore to strengthen your foot muscles.
    • If the cause is medical, work out a treatment plan with your doctor. This may mean losing weight, taking medication, or changing your lifestyle.
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    Warm up before playing sports or exercising. Stretching and warming up can greatly reduce muscle injury and soreness. Ask your trainer or coach for specific warm-ups geared towards your sport.[12]
    • Warm-ups usually consist of light exercises focused on your ankles, not literally warming up your ankle with heat. However, some exercise regimens devised by experts do involve temperature control.
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    Take other measures throughout your day to ensure strong, healthy ankles.
    • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes that do not exceed 1 inch (2.5 cm) in heel height nor irritate your feet. Consider high tops for activities that may strain your ankles.
    • While sitting, have good posture and place your feet flat on the floor. Do not cross your ankles or bend them awkwardly while seated.
    • Sleep with your legs and ankles relaxed in a relatively straight fashion; your ankles should not be bent or stretched.
    • Exercise regularly so that intense periods of exercise do not induce ankle soreness.
    • Consume proper nutrients in your diet to help your bones and muscles stay strong; lack of calcium, vitamins, or other minerals can cause greater muscle stiffness and bone weakness.
    • Do stretching, strengthening, and proprioceptive exercises.
    • Consider getting your ankle taped.


  • If the pain gets worse, please seek medical attention by calling your doctor for advice or a possible appointment.
  • The general rule for light injuries in sports is R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. These four treatments for sprains serve as useful guidelines for treating ankle soreness.
  • If you must travel on foot with ankle soreness, get an ankle brace for the time being. You can find them in the Pharmacy/Health department of most stores.
  • Persistent ankle soreness (and general joint soreness) can result from having to carry extra weight for long periods of time and may be a symptom of being overweight relative to your body’s joints.
  • Try over the counter pain medication if none of these physical treatments are feasible.
  • You can prevent ankle soreness by strengthening your ankles and exercising them more on a regular basis.
  • You do not have to both ice and heat your ankle; you can pick one that works better for you. Also, do not ice and heat your ankle back to back; let your ankle experience room temperature between icing and heating.
  • Put your foot in a small bucket of water and ice for at least 5 minutes at a time.


  • If you are pregnant and the soreness is accompanied by rapid swelling, see a doctor.
  • If pain persists or worsens or is more than simple soreness, see a doctor.
  • If you have diabetes and are experiencing foot pain, see a doctor.

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Categories: Feet Knees and Legs