Are you wondering what the best way to heal a sprained ankle is? The question here is how to heal it. Of course on the internet you'll find lots of information about RICE and how to rest and ice your ankle for 48 hours, but there is little to be found on the rehabilitation aspect of how to heal a sprained ankle. When I sprained my ankle in China three months ago, I was very surprised with the traditional techniques they used, but more surprised that they also use RICE which is a pretty western and scientific approach on how to heal a sprained ankle.
After the initial rest, ice, compression, and elevation period (I did not really compress it until later when I began to walk on it), they suggested immediate massage and walking on it as soon as possible. When speaking about how to heal a sprained ankle, the Chinese doctor had a lot to say about “bad” or “old” blood being in the injury area, probably related to the swelling and blood clots down there. The important idea is to get new blood to replace the old blood, something that is also used in acupuncture techniques (I also broke my leg in china).
Now, although during the RICE period, getting too many fluids to the ankle area can increase swelling and there is pain and also can be detrimental to the healing process, after 48 hours, when RICE becomes less effective, getting fresh blood to the area can aid in removing blood clots and scar tissue and get you ankle back to normal. They insured that I massage the area and try to move the joint as much as possible (beginning with the toes as my injury was more serious and I could not move my ankle much). This leads the joint from locking up and makes moving and exercising it later much easier. I was given a “musk deer” rub which was also used to stimulate blood flow. The feeling was a bit like tiger-balm if you've ever heard of it, so I'm sure you could find something similar. Keeping the area elevated at night, I walked on it as much as possible, always pushing the limits but never training beyond what I knew I could do. Within three days I was walking and five days I was climbing stairs normally. Two weeks I was running and a month later I've got no problems whatever. It truly was a unique experience in “how to heal a sprained ankle” the Chinese way.
It seems strange that many people who suffer from sprained ankles spend months healing. I think the difference lies in the activity of rehabilitation after the injury.