Ankle Sprain Recovery Times

What is the time frame for ankle sprain recovery? It's a common question, and a very important one. And it is hard to answer.

There are so many things that determine how long an ankle sprain takes to heal.

  • Extent of injury
  • Amount of swelling
  • Type of initial care
  • Rehabilitation, or lack thereof
Lets look closely at each of these, and see how you can optimize your ankle sprain recovery time.

Extent of Injury

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to influence the extent of injury with an ankle sprain. Aside from the normal prevention techniques like a good strengthening program, prophylactic bracing, and a little luck, there isn't much in the way of determining how much tissue is damaged. However, the extent of the injury is definitely a factor in how long it takes to recover from an ankle sprain.

Sprains are graded on a 1-3 scale, with third degree sprains being the most severe. Grades are dependent upon the amount of tissue damage, and the laxity, or looseness in the joint.

Learn more about sprains

Grade I ankle sprains are usually minor, and can heal in 2-3 weeks. They involve little tissue damage, and usually have little to no swelling. A few days of rest, and a week or two of rehabilitation exercises is usually sufficient for full recovery.

Grade II sprains are the most common ankle sprains, and they have the most varying recovery time. The tissue damage is not severe, however it is significant. And the initial care, espeically rest, will determine how long recovery will take. If all other factors are favorable, Grade II sprains should take 4-6 weeks to heal.

Ankle sprain recovery for third degree sprains takes significantly longer, and may require surgery if sprains become a chronic problem. It can take 8-12 weeks to fully recover from a third degree ankle sprain.

Amount of Swelling

Swelling occurs with ankle sprains, including all three grades. It will significantly affect the recovery time. Swelling is an active process when it occurs, but a passive process when it resolves.

This means that swelling takes forever to go away. A grade II sprain that swells up like a balloon will take significantly longer to recover than one that only swells a little bit.

This is why the Rice principles are so important, especially ice and compression. The less swelling initially, the less time it takes to get rid of the swelling. And that speeds up ankle sprain recovery.

Type of Initial Care

Chronic Problems

I have seen so many grade I sprains that lead to a more significant grade II sprain down the road that I can't remember them all.

Most ankle sprains are overlooked as a serious injury. However, even grade I sprians, if not treated correctly, can lead to recurrent injury.

Ankle sprains need to be treated appropriately no matter how bad they are. The absolute best way to treat ankle sprains initially is to use the rice principles and follow your physician's or athletic trainer's advice.

More about ankle sprain treatment


Rehab is an essential part of ankle sprain treatment, and can significantly reduce ankle sprain recovery times. A sprain that is rested will heal, but the communication between the ligaments, joint, muscles, and the rest of the body is compromised due to the damage.

This communication, or what we call proprioception, does not get better without some coaching. Thats what rehab helps to do. Not only does rehabilitation help to reduce the swelling and pain, and to improve muscle strength, but it restores the efficiency of the joint, and the communication of the muscles. This is the most important part of ankle sprain recovery, and why rehab is so necessary.

You can almost guarantee that an ankle sprain that goes without rehab will happen again...and again...and again.

A Complete Program for Ankle Pain

Ankle Sprain Solutions

Recovery time from an ankle sprain takes time. But without rehabilitation of some kind, it can go from a few weeks to months or years.

If you want the best recovery in the quickest time, you need a rehabilitation program that will address all of the problems - swelliing, pain range of motion, strength, proprioception, balance, and endurance.

I cover all of these key treatments in a comprehensive ankle rehabilitation program called Ankle Sprain Solutions.

If you are suffering from ankle pain or a sprained ankle, this is the program for you. It will walk you step by step through the BEST exercises to treat your ankle pain.

Don't underestimate your ankle sprain - it could end up causing more problems than you can imagine.


So, how long does it take to recover from an average ankle sprain... with good intial care including rest, ice, compression, and elevation, rehabilitation that focuses on not only restoring strength and endurance but also balance and proprioception, and a little luck, you should be off the sidelines in 4-6 weeks.

Don't rush it, and keep in mind everything that will help speed your ankle sprain recovery.

Didn't find what you were looking for? Search SII for more information...

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