One of the most popular forms of exercise for its benefits to the overall function of the body and mind also comes with some troubling pain. Sore ankles seem to be one of the most familiar problems for runners. Let's see why...
While running can help you both in sustaining a healthy weight, and in enhancing your mental outlook, it can also cause several ankle problems. These issues can develop for anyone who has recently become involved with this activity and they are also true for people who accumulate wear and tear resulted from a steady habit of running.
The ankle contains two main joints - the ankle joint and the subtalar joint - and three main bones - the shin bone (or the tibia), the fibula, and the talus. These are bolstered together by ligaments, tendons and muscles that are all assisting in the motion involved with running. If you feel pain during your run you should be taking it seriously! Once an issue has emerged, you may encounter additional health problems if you don't offer your muscles, ligaments or tendons the opportunity to heal.
Some of the most common ankle problems for runners are:
If your ankle moves in an unnatural way, you might be dealing with a sprained ankle. You feel a sudden pain after twisting or turning your ankle? This is very common. Your ligaments are stretched or torn by a sudden twist and you instantly feel pain that causes you to limp. Your ankle may also become swollen, bruised and inflamed.
Don't try to start running again too quickly without proper treatment, because you may develop chronic ankle instability that can cause your ankle to sprain regularly! In that case, physiotherapy exercises can help you to strengthen your muscles and improve your balance.
Most ankle sprains can be treated at home using the RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Wearing an elasticated ankle brace to provide ankle support is highly recommended.
Achilles tendon problems usually start with pain in the area around the ankle and back of the heel. This is a common injury for middle-aged, slightly overweight runners, and it can be difficult to treat. Take a close look at your footwear to make sure it’s appropriate and that it fits well. Reach out to a physiotherapist to learn and practice the appropriate exercises and stretches for your Achilles tendon and calves.
Tendons on the inside and outside of the ankle help runners to maintain stability and foot position. Flat feet, worn or ill-fitting shoes and the wrong running style can cause tendons to rub on the anklebone witch leads to tendinitis. This means pain, swelling and stiffness. A pair of special or even custom-made shoe inserts can help ease the pain.
Tendons can become overworked during the process of repetitive running. This results in posterior tibial tendonitis and it involves pain and swelling from small tears in the tendon. Resting, applying ice, and taking anti-inflammatories to deal with the inflammation are all recommended before seeing a physiotherapist.
A stress fracture is a small, hairline crack in a bone caused by consistent force and impact from running repeatedly or excessively. Symptoms include pain around the ankle when running and it can get worse if the run continues. A stress fracture can also become painful while resting and at night. You should stop running and contact your physician. A MRI scan might be needed for a definitive diagnosis.
Wear of the polished surface on your ankle joint
People aged over 40 who have a history of twisting their ankle are at risk of wear on the polished surface of the ankle joint. The resulting friction of the worn surface leads to pain, inflammation and stiffness in the ankle. Each run becomes shorter since runners who have this condition notice increasing stiffness and pain while performing their activity. Unfortunately, this is irreversible.
Don’t ignore pain and stiffness and most of all don't mask it by taking painkillers so you can run. The pain is there for a reason!
Be prepared to change to a low-impact activity at an early stage if your symptoms get worse.