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Why Is Your Ankle Still Swollen After Months of Recovery?

When I broke my right talus bone (the full story here), I had a few weeks where my ankle was really swollen. But months after the injury it was already healing and there was little swelling. I know a lot of people who are recovering from a fracture or injury are wondering how long before the swelling subsides. Is it still normal if your ankle is swollen after months or even years? I’d say no, it’s not normal.

Here are four important questions you need to ask yourself if your ankle is still swollen months, or even years, after the injury:

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Question #1: Are you drinking enough water?

When you’re thirsty, it’s your body telling you it needs water. The body is composed of 60-70% water. If you’re not drinking enough, your body might be having a hard time during recovery.

When you’re dehydrated, you’re not be able to flush out all the toxins in your body and all those toxins may be causing the inflammation in your ankle, at the site of your injury.

Take note that if you’re drinking 8 glasses per day, as is often recommended, that may not be enough during recovery. Better to double your water intake to help your body recover faster. Skip the beer, wine, soda, or coffee. Coffee and alcohol can cause more dehydration and that’s one thing you really want to avoid right now. But if you still absolutely, positively need a bit of caffeine, make sure you drink lots of water to make up for it!

Question #2: Are you eating the right food?

So you’re drinking enough water and moving enough, but you still have inflammation. Then it’s time to check your diet. It is a fact that there are foods that can cause inflammation in your body. If your diet is composed mostly of dairy and meat, then you’ll have to adjust if you want to reduce inflammation.

Fruits and vegetables are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can find – they nourish you with vitamins and minerals, provide fiber and are great for hydration too, especially raw.

You should also cut out processed food from your diet. It doesn’t matter if you’re munching on kale chips or cream and onion potato chips. Processed food can be the reason your ankle is still swollen – there is normally way too much salt, fat and other additives in it. By the way, if you’re struggling with your diet and have no idea on what to eat, contact me! And if you want an extra tool to fight inflammation, you can also check out this article for The Best Anti-Inflammatory Drink ever.

Question #3: Are you sleeping enough?

Never underestimate the power of sleep. You might have spent days sleeping during the early stages of your recovery but it’s important that you still get enough sleep even after going back to your normal daily routine.

Lack of sleep slows down your recovery. It is during sleep that your body is able to fully recharge and recover. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body does not have its recovery quality time. If your ankle is still swelling up months or years after injury, then it’s very likely you’re not getting enough rest.

Question #4: Are you moving enough?

During recovery, it’s easy to fall back to your normal routine before the accident. But there is a fine line here –  sitting in the office for hours on end may be causing your swollen ankle. And conversely, you may also be standing too much, putting strain on your ankle. Go over how you are moving on a regular day to see if you’re sitting or standing too much.

How to move more, even if you’re still injured

Moving around, keeping the foot elevated when you’re not, and doing stretching and strengthening exercises for your ankle is essential to keep the swelling down and improve your recovery. But it’s hard to know what you should be doing, and when, especially if you’re still injured.

I actually created a whole program of physiotherapist-approved exercises for myself when I broke my ankle which helped me finish a triathlon (more than one) after my doctors told me I’d never be able to walk without a limp again. More than 975 injured women and men have used it since then, and their results speak for themselves – it can be used to improve the strength and flexibility of your ankle no matter if you’re just starting your recovery, or if it’s been months since the injury. You can find out for yourself – it’s totally free to try!

With love xx

Dr. Maya

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