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How to Immobilize an Ankle

The ankle is a complex joint, so when an injury occurs, and you can't get help right away, the first thing to do is keep it from moving – you'll prevent any more damage to the surrounding nerves and tissue.


  • : As soon as you can, seek medical attention for ankle injuries.
  • Step 1: Lay them on their back Help the injured person lie down on their back. Then, cut away clothing from the injured spot. Don't move them great distances until you've totally immobilized the ankle.
  • TIP: If you must move the injured person out of the street or another dangerous area, pick them up under their arms, bend your knees, and drag them, instructing them to keep their weight off the injured ankle.
  • Step 2: Cushion the ankle Gently lift the affected leg and place a folded towel, blanket, or pillow beneath the injured ankle and foot to cushion them. The cushioning should extend past the ankle by at least the length of the foot.
  • TIP: If the area is bleeding, cover it with a sterile bandage or gauze, or any soft, clean item.
  • Step 3: Tie the cushion Starting at mid-shin, pull the cushion up around the lower leg and use tape, rope, or straps to loosely secure the cushion in two places over the shin. You should splint the ankle in as natural a position as possible.
  • : No matter what, don't try to straighten the ankle or attempt to pop any dislocated joint back into place.
  • Step 4: Tie cushioning mid-foot Bend the other end of the cushion so that it is against the sole of the foot, leaving the toes exposed. Tie it once around mid-foot.
  • Step 5: Check that cushioning isn't too tight Check that the cushion isn't tied too tightly by squeezing a toe and timing how long it takes for its color to return. If it takes longer than three seconds, remove the ties and redo them more loosely.
  • Step 6: Elevate the ankle Elevate the ankle above the victim's heart level and continue to monitor their circulation and comfort until they receive medical attention.
  • FACT: The ankle actually consists of two joints: the subtalar joint, which allows movement side to side, and the true ankle joint, which allows movement up and down.

You Will Need

  • A towel
  • blanket
  • or pillow
  • Tape
  • rope
  • or straps
  • A sterile bandage
  • gauze
  • or soft clean cloth

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