Can You Walk on a Sprained Ankle? A Guide on Pain and Recovery


Can You Walk on a Sprained Ankle? A Guide on Pain and Recovery

Sports, curbs, and high heels all pose a hazard to one of the most important parts of your body. These three different things have caused many an ankle injury. So, can you walk on a sprained ankle? 

Yes, if you absolutely have to, you can walk on a sprained ankle. You should take it slow and put weight on it gingerly at first until you understand the severity of the sprain. If you're wearing a shoe, tie the shoe tighter until you can evaluate the depth of the injury. 

How Do I Know if I Sprained My Ankle?

Your ankle is the joint that connects your foot to your lower leg. Three ligaments keep your bones aligned where they should be so you can have a stable footing. When you stretch one of those ligaments too far, you have sprained your ankle. 

You will know you've sprained your ankle to some degree or another because it will hurt. It will swell up like a balloon and possibly develop a bruise. You will also feel like you shouldn't walk on that foot. 

A sprain also causes blood to flow to the area you've sprained, so your ankle will look red and warm shortly after you injure it. You will have trouble walking because of the pain and the instability caused by overstretched ligaments. 

Ultimately, only a doctor can diagnose a sprained ankle. If you think you've sprained your ankle, go to a doctor as soon as you can. A medical professional can tell you the grade of the sprain and recommend a more thorough treatment other than rest and ice.  

Should I Go To the Hospital If I Sprained My Ankle?

You do not have to go to the emergency room or the hospital if you've sprained your ankle. if you've suffered a severe sprain, one where you felt or heard something pop, you should find a doctor. Look for a clinic or urgent care if you've injured yourself on the weekend or a holiday when a clinic isn't open. 

If you cannot go to a medical professional right away, you should begin home treatment as soon as possible. Ice your ankle and elevate it as soon as you can get off your feet. 

If you did not have a severe sprain, wait five to seven days. Treat your sprain at home with rest and ice.

If the ankle does not improve, see a doctor. You may have more than just a sprain on your hands. 

If you have an ankle brace, use it. Ankle braces work much like a knee brace, stabilizing the ankle so you can walk on the joint without risk of falling. 

If you do not have an ankle brace, find an ace bandage that you can wrap around your ankle to reduce swelling and stabilize the joint. 

Can You Walk On a Sprained Ankle? 

You certainly can walk on a sprained ankle. It will hurt. If you have a severe sprain, you will need some kind of brace to walk until you can find a medical professional to diagnose the problem. 

Once you get to a clinic, a medical professional will evaluate your ankle. They will most likely take an x-ray and possibly schedule an MRI or CT scan to see the extent of the damage. Their evaluation will tell them what sprained ankle grades your ankle has suffered. 

Grade I

A grade I ankle sprain is the least severe of the three grades. Doctors call this a mild sprain. A grade I sprain has stretched your ligaments but not torn them. 

You can still walk fairly well on your ankle because it is still stable. You will most likely still feel pain and stiffness when you walk, though. 

Grade I sprains take basic care for recovery. You should ice your ankle, elevate it, and wear a brace if you feel the need to. You should avoid impact exercises like running until the pain and swelling have subsided. 

A grade I sprain can take two to three weeks for healing before you feel comfortable going back to your regular activities. 

Grade II

A grade II sprain is called a moderate sprain. With a grade II sprain, you've suffered partially torn ligaments around your ankle. As a result of the torn ligaments, your ankle will feel unstable, and walking will be a problem. 

Your ankle will also swell significantly, and you'll feel a moderate amount of pain. 

Grade II ankle sprains may require crutches or a boot for a period of time until your ligaments have healed. You will need something that keeps your ankle stable. If you attempt to exercise on a grade II sprain, you may end up injuring your ankle more by tearing the ligaments even more. 

A grade II ankle sprain will take up to four to six weeks to heal completely. 

Grade III

A grade III sprain is a severe ankle sprain. This is the sprain where you may hear or feel something pop when you injure the joint. One or more ligaments are completely torn with a grade III sprain. 

As a result of torn ligaments, your ankle is completely unstable. You will not be able to move your ankle much less walk on it. 

Grade III sprains are the worst type of sprain. They hurt the most and take the most time to recover. You are looking at a recovery period of three months or more for a grade III sprain. 

How Soon Can You Walk On a Sprained Ankle? 

You could certainly try to grit your teeth and walk on a sprained ankle earlier rather than later. Know that if you attempt to walk on an injured ankle too early, you run the risk of longer recovery time or, even worse, re-injuring the joint. 

So, how long does a sprained ankle take to heal? 

Your recovery time will depend on the grade of the sprain along with multiple other factors. For example, if you're obese, your recovery time may take longer. You will have more balance issues and a likelihood of reinjuring the joint if you do fully rehabilitate the joint. 

If you've suffered from a grade I sprain, you can most likely walk on the joint right away. Complete a regular therapy regimen of rest, ice, compression, and elevation multiple times a day. The more religious you are with the R.I.C.E. treatment, the more quickly you'll be able to walk comfortably. 

What is R.I.C.E.? 

R.I.C.E. is the standard of care for most injuries. It stands for the following terms: 

  • Rest: This means a complete rest of the injury. You do not need to take a nap, but you need to rest the joint. In this case, do not walk on your ankle or at least try to stay off your feet. 
  • Ice: Find an ice pack that completely surrounds the joint. In the case of an ankle injury, you could submerge your foot and ankle in a large bucket of ice water. Ice will reduce inflammation. 
  • Compression: Put a joint or a compression sleeve on your ankle. Compression will help reduce swelling and keep your joint in line. The reduced swelling will also make your ankle feel better. 
  • Elevation: To help reduce swelling, rest with your ankle above your heart. Sitting in a recliner with your compression wrap will help the ankle heal more quickly. Elevation will reduce swelling as fluid flows away from the joint. 

Can Walking On a Sprained Ankle Make It Worse? 

Caring for a sprained ankle is not much different than caring for any kind of injury. Just like when caring for sore calves, you want to treat your ankle carefully. 

Is it okay to walk on a sprained ankle? 

If you can avoid it, do not walk on a sprained ankle. If you suspect that you've sprained your ankle, try to get off it immediately and begin the R.I.C.E. regimen. 

Walking on a sprained ankle can make the injury worse. You've just suffered stretched or possibly torn ligaments in your ankle. Walking on the injury could cause you to sprain it more because the ankle is now unstable. 

Furthermore, if you're walking on an unstable ankle, you run the risk of falling and injuring things other than just your ankle. Imagine your sprained ankle giving out and then picture yourself falling and breaking a hip or an elbow. 

The Do's and Don'ts of Healing a Sprained Ankle's Recovery

To quicken your sprained ankle recovery, you should follow these guidelines. 

The Dos

Follow these tips on how to heal a sprained ankle fast.  

  • Try to get off your feet right away. If you're in a situation where you have to keep walking, see if there's a way you can splint your ankle to improve stability or use a walking stick of some sort so you can have extra support. Even tying your shoe tighter can make a difference when you suffer the injury initially. 
  • Wait a few days before you rush to the doctor. Give your ankle five to seven days to recover before you go into a clinic. 
  • Follow the R.I.C.E. protocol. If you treat your ankle religiously, you could avoid a doctor's appointment and recover more quickly. 
  • Wear an ankle brace if you have one. Stabilizing the joint will allow you to walk on the injured ankle more quickly. It will also reduce the risk of re-injuring the joint. 
  • Be patient. If you have a severe ankle sprain, a grade III one, you may end up needing surgery. You will need months to recover, and that will require patience. 
  • Attend physical therapy if your doctor prescribes it. Your joint will be stiff even after you treat it with ice, compression, and elevation. The right physical therapy will help you regain mobility and strength more quickly. 

Do pay attention to yourself and take it easy when you injure your ankle. If you want to regain mobility quickly, you have to slow down. 

The Don'ts

  • Be a hero. If you're a caretaker in the home or the person who tends to do everything, do not neglect treatment and home care. Take time to stop and rest your ankle. 
  • Skip physical therapy or rush through your exercises. If you're going to P.T., follow those exercises religiously. They're designed to help you regain mobility more quickly and avoid future injuries. 
  • Throw away your ankle brace, boot, or other support materials. Once you've sprained your ankle, you have the potential to sprain it again. You will have a weaker ankle because of the injury, so keep those supports around. 
  • Be a weenie. Physica therapy will hurt, and even the icing process will cause some discomfort. At some point, you need to trust your treatment and muscle through the discomfort of doing things like soaking your foot in a bucket of icy water. 

Avoid these things if you want to recover fully from the most common injury in sports. You have to take care of yourself, and at the same time, you need some grit to work through the recovery process. 

Walk With Confidence

You don't have to be an athlete to suffer an ankle sprain. Three-inch stilettos have caused many a sprained ankle as has walking too close to the curb.

If you're one of the unfortunate few that has suffered an ankle injury, you can now answer the question, "Can you walk on a sprained ankle?" 

If you've suffered an injury or just want to learn about how to care for your joints, take time to learn more about us. We offer multiple products and have helpful articles teaching readers how to care for your body. Our products will help you move with confidence. 

For all of your joint needs, contact us. We'd love to help. 


  • Ian Harlen

    All sound advice, however, what I need to know is whether or not I can walk on my sprained ankle after it has mostly healed (8 weeks after a type 3 sprain). I can manage to walk on it without pain. So, is this good therapy toward the recovery, or might I be hindering the healing process by walking on it for a few miles per day?
    Note: I am in perfect shape, and atheletic— so there is no risk of tripping and reinjuring it by my careful walking.

  • Lana

    I want to take my boots of now can I or not

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