How to Treat Your Own Sprain While Hiking or Camping

One of the worst things that can happen while hiking or camping is getting an injury that simple first-aid can’t take care of. You might be miles away from civilization and need to treat it, then walk back to where others can help you. Here are some ways to treat an ankle or hand sprain while hiking or camping.


RICE is going to be the most common suggestion because it is what helps the most. When you are out on a hike or camping, you can’t really get to a hospital or urgent care right away. This is why RICE is so important. It helps to reduce the swelling and pain before you are able to safely get somewhere for proper medical attention.

RICE can be used for an ankle sprain, wrist sprain, strain, and other soft tissue injuries. Here is what this stands for:

R – Rest – First you want to rest the joint or ligament that was injured. If you sprain your ankle, you need to sit or lie down immediately to get the weight off that part of your body. Otherwise, it is going to just continue hurting worse.

I – Ice – Next is icing the area if it is available to you. Use anything that is cold, whether it is an ice pack from your cooler, or even snow on the ground if you happen to be doing a winter hike. If all you have is a nearby lake with cold water, collect some, put it in a bucket, and put your foot inside.

C – Compress – Compressing the sprained ankle or foot is next on the list, which is going to help reduce the swelling. If you have anything you can gently wrap around it, it will reduce swelling a lot and start to help with the pain. This is important to do before you start walking to get to the end of the trail or find help. Even some plastic wrap can work if you didn’t bring anything else with you.

E – Elevate – E stands for elevate, which is when you need to rest and put the limb higher than where your heart is. This elevation also helps to reduce inflammation and swelling and will encourage the healing process. 

Try to find help without walking around on your own if you can. Call out for help or use your phone to call someone.

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