Running is one of the greatest forms of exercise – and not just for its health benefits. You don’t have to organize a big team of people to go running. You don’t have to stay cooped up inside like you would if you only lifted weights in a gym. And you don’t have to put up with terrible gym music when you go running, either.
But as with any exercise, running brings the possibility of certain injuries. This makes sense. The typical runner takes an average of 4,778 steps during a 5K, which can place gradual strain on even the most experienced athletes’ hips, knees and feet. And the ankle, a complex structure that contains two joints, four ligaments, five bones and several tendons, is naturally prone to many types of injuries.
We’re going to take a look at the most common causes of ankle pain while running. Then explain what you can do to help alleviate ankle pain from running.
Causes of Ankle Pain While Running
- Ankle sprain occurs when you twist your ankle in a direction it’s not supposed to go in. This stretches (or even tears) one or more of the ligaments which hold the bones in your ankle together. An ankle typically heals from a sprain on its own unless the ligament has been completely severed. Yet, pain, swelling, bruising and limited range of motion are all common symptoms of this injury.
- Ankle strain doesn’t necessarily result from a single trauma – it can also follow long-term overuse of the ankle. Hence its frequent occurrence among new recruits who are just beginning to march for extended periods of time. Like a sprain, an ankle strain is typically painful and accompanied by swelling and loss of motion. Cramps and muscle spasms are also common.
- Stress fractures are small cracks that have formed in an ankle bone for any number of reasons including excessive running, switching from running on one type of surface to another or inadequate nutrition. Stress fractures may produce swelling and bruising in addition to pain. Fortunately, a bone that has only received stress fractures is capable of gradually healing itself.
- Tendinitis literally means “inflammation of the tendon,” and like an ankle sprain, it commonly results from overexercising. Tendonitis may also result from excessive repetition. Ill-fitting running shoes may even be the cause of this. Swelling caused by tendonitis is usually less severe than a strain or sprain, although it shares the symptoms of pain and loss of natural range of movement.
Treatments for Ankle Pain From Running
When we recommend RICE for relief from ankle pain, we’re not advising that you apply cereal grain to the affected area. RICE is an acronym for the four methods anyone can undertake to reduce pain. It can also combat swelling and inflammation, and accelerate a body’s natural ability to heal.
Rest: Although you might dread any interruption to your running schedule, avoiding putting any weight or unnecessary strain on your affected ankle for two to three days may eliminate pain.
Ice: It is beneficial to apply an ice pack to the injured area as quickly as you’re able. Icing the injured ankle four to eight times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time is ideal.
Compress: Wrapping the injured ankle in cohesive tape, an Ace elastic bandage, or a compression sleeve can accelerate the natural healing process.
Elevate: Lying down with your injured ankle resting on several pillows, positioning it higher than your heart, is also effective at relieving pain.
When to See a Doctor for Ankle Pain
The RICE method can work very well at relieving ankle pain, but it is not sufficient for treating severe injuries. You may need medical attention for ankle pain if discomfort persists after three days, you’re unable to run following one week of rest, your ankle cannot support the full weight of your body or a number of other reasons.
Never assume that a doctor will be unable to help you! Even if your ankle pain is mild yet persistent, the podiatrists of Twin Cities Foot & Ankle Clinic can aid you along a faster recovery and get you back to running at full speed.
If ankle pain is holding you back from realizing your athletic potential – or just keeping you from enjoying life at its fullest – then we welcome you to contact us today.