How to Avoid Ankle Pain When Running

Ankle pain when running is a common issue for runners and it can become persistent if left untreated. When you are running, there is a tremendous amount of pressure being put onto your feet and ankle joints, and if you are overexerting yourself with too much running, have ill-fitting shoes or you are constantly running on hard uneven surfaces, you may cause an ankle injury. 

Ankle pain can be prevented while and after running by warming up beforehand, running on even surfaces, eating a balanced nutritional diet, and having an exercise therapy plan. 


Ankle pain symptoms 

With any kind of exercise, it is normal to feel aches and pains afterwards, but if the ankle pain or soreness is persistent, it could be a sign of an injury. Here are some symptoms you should look out for: 


  • Sharp pain on the front, back, sides, inside or outside of the ankle
  • Dull, persistent aching 
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising 
  • Swelling 
  • Stiffness
  • Instability 
  • Reduced ability to walk, run, or bear weight 


What can cause ankle pain?

There are four common causes of ankle pain, and if you are not sure if you are experiencing one of these injuries, you can visit your doctor. They will provide you with a diagnosis and then our team of professional registered kinesiologists at Symmetrix can develop a treatment program for you.  

Our kinesiologists are trained and experienced in providing rehabilitation therapy including exercise therapy and aquatic therapy, where we can help decrease your pain and work on building your ankle strength. 

Here are the four primary causes of ankle pain during and after running: 


1. Ankle sprain 

An ankle sprain occurs when a ligament (a piece of tissue that connects two or more bones) is overstretched or torn. The common symptoms of an ankle sprain include; pain, swelling, bruising and inability to bear weight on the ankle. 


2. Ankle strain 

An ankle strain occurs when a tendon (a piece of tissue that connects the muscle to the bone) or muscle tissue, is overstretched or torn. The common symptoms of an ankle strain include; pain, swelling, muscle spasms, cramping, inability to bear weight or move the ankle. 


3. Ankle stress fracture 

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone and this can happen in your ankle for multiple reasons including: 


  • Overexertion 
  • Running on uneven surfaces
  • Lack of nutrition 


The common symptoms of an ankle stress fracture are; pain during running and not during rest, some swelling, and possible bruising. 


4. Ankle tendonitis 

Tendonitis is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon. This is very common for runners and can happen in the ankle. Ankle tendonitis can be caused by bad-fitting shoes, overexertion, repetition of movement, and physical attributes such as high arches or flat feet. 

The most common symptoms for ankle tendonitis are; dull aching pain, some swelling and tenderness. 


Ankle arthritis

Beyond the four most common ankle injuries, your ankle pain may be a sign of arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis, but those commonly associated with the ankle are; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.


Arthritis is inflammation of the joint and there is no cure, but pain can be mitigated through proper exercise therapy. At Symmetrix, our registered kinesiologists have years of experience working with clients with arthritis. We develop a rigorous rehabilitation and workout plan, alongside personal training, to decrease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Ankle pain treatment 

If you are experiencing pain in your ankle, it’s important to rest and let your body have time to heal. If you get home from a run and notice some ankle pain, your first step should be to utilize the POLICE treatment method. 


Protect

Protect your ankle by taking a break and avoiding running and bearing weight on your ankle for 2 to 3 days. After this rest period, you may start to introduce some motion while still maintaining some protection of the injured area. You may require an assistive device such as crutches, to walk. 


Optimal Loading

Optimal loading describes the gentle motions you can start doing while in the protection phase. If you are unsure of your injury and how to perform rehab exercises, you should see a Symmetrix kinesiologist


Ice

Apply ice to the ankle as soon as possible. Continue applying ice for 20 minutes four to eight times a day until you see the swelling decrease. 


Compression

You can wrap your ankle with an elasticated bandage or a compression sleeve designed for an ankle. 


Elevate

Whenever possible, keep your ankle about your heart to help reduce inflammation. 

The rice method is designed to reduce ankle swelling, pain, discomfort, and speed up the healing and recovery process. 

Get your ankle seen by a professional kinesiologist

Ankle pain prevention 

If you are a runner, there are things you can do to prevent ankle pain or ankle injuries. The team at Symmetrix recommend the following:


Warm-up

You can lightly stretch or slowly jog for a few minutes to warm up your body prior to starting your run. 


Proper athletic shoes

Wear shoes that are designed to be used for running. These shoes will have more cushioning to withstand the impact of running and support your foot properly. 


Running on even and flat surfaces

If you can, it’s preferable to run on even and flat surfaces, rather than rugged terrain. If you are an avid trail runner, we suggest wearing shoes designed for trail running to help compensate for the uneven footing. 


Eat a balanced diet

A balanced diet is key to supplementing your exercise. A nutritional diet will help you recover faster and prevent injuries. 


Supplementary exercise

It’s not a good idea to only run, you should supplement your week with other forms of exercise such as yoga, biking or swimming. We suggest performing exercises that work to strengthen the ankle joint and incorporate balance training to strengthen the muscles around your ankle. 


Stretch & recovery

Always remember to stretch after running to improve your blood flow and help your muscles to relax so to prevent pain or injury, and improve your recovery. 


Listen to your body

Always stay in touch with how your body is feeling. If you are running and begin to notice ankle pain, stop running or modify your exercise until the pain dissipates. If you have been injured, it’s worth seeing a registered kinesiologist to help you with rehabilitation and training before returning to running.

If you are a runner experiencing ankle pain or you are interested in learning the steps you can take to prevent ankle injury, you can book an in-person or virtual personal training consultation with one of our professional kinesiologists at Symmetrix. 

We also have exercise therapy and aquatic therapy to help you rehab an ankle injury or help with chronic ankle pain. 


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