How to Treat a Sprained Ankle While Hiking
Hiking can be a very challenging and strenuous sport. Every hiker encounters and has to deal with a variety of terrains at every location. When starting a hiking adventure, you need to keep in mind to take the terrains slowly and carefully, especially when traveling over uneven and rigorous terrain. It is extremely important to be cautious on every hiking trail, and to protect your ankles. The best way to do this is to wear gear especially made for hiking and fitted just for your size. Investing in a good pair of hiking shoes that provide support for your ankles will ensure that your feet are better protected. However, even with the most careful execution, accidents do happen and ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries from hiking. One wrong step can lead to twisting your ankle and put yourself into an excruciating pain. If the sprain is severe enough or not taken care of right away, it can end your hiking trip and prevent you from putting weight on it for a while.
If you suddenly experience a sharp pain in your ankles it is important to take a break and check your ankles for any swelling and bruises. If they are discolored or there is any swelling it is necessary to receive first aid right away. If you do not address the problem right away and provide first aid, you are risking more serious problems including not being able to walk for a long period of time. The first step in caring for a sprained ankle is to elevate your ankle to the height of your chest and rest as much as possible. Do not put any weight or stress onto it and make sure you have elevated higher than your heart. The next thing to do once you have your injury well rested is to check the pulse in your food. Place the tips of your fingers right in the center of the top of your foot, about one or two inches below your ankle. Your pulse should be quick and regular. However, if you feel a thread, weakening pulse, the circulation to your foot could be being restricted and you will need professional medical help right away.
If you don’t have anyone to lean on or carry you will need to create a make shift splint to hobble somewhere where you can receive medical attention. It is important that you receive help as quickly as possible because when the blood circulation is constricted from your ankle you can risk losing your foot completely from paralysis. You can create a splint by using your shoe and laces. Unlace your shoe on the foot where the sprained ankle is, but make sure to keep it on. Using the laces you can tie it higher by your knee and keep it elevated slightly. Make sure to walk very slowly and carefully, and put your weight onto the other leg completely. The homemade sling should steady your ankle until you have a place to rest and can receive medical attention.
If your pulse is normal, then you can usually treat the sprain yourself. The first concern is to reduce inflammation by protect it with a brace or your makeshift splint. Keep all the weight off of it and elevate your ankle, allowing the injury to rest. If ice or any cold compresses are available to you, use it for about 15-20 minutes three times a day to reduce any swelling. Keeping your ankle elevated will relieve it of any stress and allow it to heal faster. Make sure when coming back to your car or home after spraining it on a hike, to not put weight onto it, either by using a splint or leaning onto somebody. Be sure to take some kind of pain reliever, such as Aspirin to reduce the pain and keep the ankle from getting any more swollen. Once home you can begin to use cold compresses on a regular basis for three days. After that time has passed, use warm compresses until the sprain has disappeared.
Although sprains are treatable, it is best to prevent them completely by maintaining your balance, being aware of any uneven terrain and ensuring that your ankles are strong by regular exercise.