How to Elevate Your Ankle on a Pillow

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Ankle injuries require elevation for healing.
Ankle injuries require elevation for healing. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

An injured ankle can be a debilitating situation as it limits our primary mode of transportation -- walking. A sprain or break means rest and a formula called "R.I.C.E." is the primary treatment, with the "E" meaning elevation. Elevating the ankle reduces swelling because it promotes drainage of fluid in the joint when the ankle is elevated higher than the heart. Reduction of swelling is important to the healing process, since inflammation will interfere with the circulation required for the body to repair the injury.

Stack two to three pillows in a pile on a couch or the bed. Use a larger, firmer pillow for the base. Add one or two smaller, softer pillows for the top. The height needs to be adequate to raise the ankle above your heart while you are lying down.

Recline flat on your back or on your side with your leg extended and the pillows located below your ankle, calf and foot area. Don't place them below just your calf or foot, the ankle needs support. Use the pillows like a cradle.

Adjust the height so the ankle is elevated above the level of your heart. Move the ankle regularly so it does not become stiff. Rotate it in small gentle motions as if writing the alphabet with your big toe to help ease the swelling and keep a range of motion in the joint. Lower the ankle occasionally to alternate the blood flow and then replace it on the pillow.

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